Something good

At the end of each weekly work planning meeting, I say “All right, Rachel (or whoever is up that day), tell me something good.” It’s that person’s turn to spend a few minutes telling the group about something they think is neat. It has only one guideline and one rule.

Guideline: Share something that you think you like more than most people do. Tell us what’s so great about it.

Rule: No trying to impress anyone.

This has inadvertently become the thing everyone is the most excited about in our weekly team rhythm. We’ve had people talk about everything from the 2000s HBO series “Rome” to the Kaweco Sport fountain pen to mystery novels about game wardens.

My initial goal with this activity as a manager was to provide a low-stakes, low-effort activity that would build psychological safety in a remote team. My thinking was, unlike other manager-mandated sharing, this activity scales well to different levels of intimacy. People can share things that mean a lot to them or things that are just kind of fun but don’t disclose much.

After doing Something Good for about a year, it’s had some other, unexpected benefits. It’s accessible public speaking and presenting practice for team members who aren’t as comfortable with it. It’s also motivation for mastering our videoconferencing tool’s advanced features. As a remote team, both are valuable skills to build.

The initial idea was based on The Outshot, a segment that Jesse Thorn did on his radio show, “Bullseye.” The phrase “tell me something good” comes from the Chaka Khan song.