This article was based on episode 046 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.
What’s your DJ name? That might seem like an odd question, but you discover quite a lot about someone through the process of determining their DJ name. Want to know mine? Keep reading.
In this episode of The Modern Manager, I speak with Amani Roberts, DJ, music producer, podcaster professor and creative who loves to help people unlock their creativity by teaching them how to DJ. After a successful career as a corporate executive, Amani took the leap into the creative space.
Amani and I talk about his experience in both corporate and creative settings, lessons learned, and his new business of team building through DJing.
NO MATTER WHAT TYPE OF TEAM YOU LEAD, PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE
When comparing his previous life as a corporate executive to his new life as a DJ leading a team of other creatives, Amani highlights a few differences and similarities. As for differences, one area Amani noticed is the ability to focus. Amani says teams traditional business teams were able to stay focused on achieving the goal whereas creative teams can sometimes get carried away by their creativity. This means his job as a manager now requires more attention on ensuring focus and task completion.
Another difference Amani noticed is risk tolerance. Creatives tend to be more comfortable trying new processes, innovating and taking risks whereas corporate team members tend to be more risk or change averse. But at the end of the day, one of the most valuable lessons Amani learned as a manager is to spend time learning about each person on your team. Get to know them, their background and experiences, their skills and expertise. Because people are people.
WHETHER DJING OR LEADING A MEETING, YOU NEED TO READ THE ROOM
One challenge that Amani faces as a DJ is reading a room and responding with music that aligns with the goal, whether that be keeping the dance floor full or generating a casual vibe.
This is not so different from the role of a meeting leader who needs to read the group and ensure participants are engaged and contributing. Great meeting leaders create a space in which each person feels like their voice matters. Participants are therefore willing to speak up even when their ideas or thoughts may be in the minority or controversial.
When reading a room, look for these signals of disengagement or lack of comfort:
People use their devices. Using a phone, tablet or laptop during a meeting to check email or do other work is one of the most obvious signs of lack of engagement.
People look off into space or their eyes glaze over. Devices aren’t the only form of distraction. People get distracted by their own thoughts and stop paying attention. When this happens, you’ll often also notice a change in their eyes or expression.
People start to speak and then stop. A person who is not fully comfortable contributing may struggle to jump in. They may begin to speak but then quickly cede the floor to someone else or lean forward and open their mouth as if to speak, but then sit back without sharing. These are particularly true when the group is large or there are a few dominant speakers.
People sit quietly. Some people will only share when they are specifically asked.
If you notice either of the first two behaviors, ask the individual to rejoin the group or speak with them after the meeting to learn why they disengaged. Was the topic not relevant? Did they have another urgent priority drawing their attention?
If you notice either of the latter two behaviors, specifically ask the person if they have thoughts to share. Consider adding an activity in which people write their thoughts and then go round robin to share them.
TEAM BUILDING IS ESSENTIAL FOR DOING YOUR BEST WORK
Whether you sit next to each other every day or interact only via a screen, team building can elevate relationships in ways that profoundly impact the team. Bonds developed during team building can have a halo effect that lasts for weeks, months or even years, resulting in greater respect, kindness, understanding and more. All of these enable people to work more effectively and efficiently together.
There are many team building activities ranging from social to adventurous, playful to serious. A great team building activity will transform group’s energy from hesitation to celebration, provide insight and opportunities to learn about one another, and enable participation by all team members.
Here are a few suggestions for team building activities:
Professional Development Workshop
Attend a Sports Game
Physical Challenge - ropes course, trapeze
Game Night - I recommend a cooperative game such as Pandemic rather than a competitive game such as Monopoly.
MUSIC BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER
Amani’s experience teaching DJing as a team building activity has taught him how music brings people together. Even an activity as simple as selecting your DJ name can become a source of humor or insight for the team.
For example, my DJ name, thanks to Amani’s prompting, is DJ Boss Lady. That’s the nickname my husband lovingly gave to me a few years ago. With only that bit of information, you may infer that I like to be in charge or that my husband thinks its cool for me to be an entrepreneur. (Both are true.)
If you asked me to tell you more about that name, I’d say that I now have a t-shirt and desk sign that both proclaim “boss lady.” Whenever I need to work on the weekends or travel for a client, my husband tells our kids it’s because Mama is the Boss Lady. It’s become a nickname which I adore.
Amani’s team building program goes into much more depth, but imagine what might you learn about your team members with a question as playful as “what would your DJ name be?”
Join the Modern Manager community on Patreon and get 25% off Amani's DJ team building experience plus episode guides and additional guest bonuses, to support your journey to rockstar manager.
This article was based on episode 046 of The Modern Manager podcast. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Modern Manager Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Never miss a worksheet, episode or article: subscribe to Mamie’s newsletter.
You can also listen to every episode here.
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