How Monday Mornings Became Our Favorite Time of the Week
May 10, 2019
9:00am Monday morning is not a universally cherished experience. From the old Garfield comics to Office Space, cultural references have always reminded us that the transition from weekend to work routine is not a smooth one, and that Monday mornings are, at best, something to be tolerated.
But at XenoPsi, we take a different approach to “Monday Projects,” and for many on our staff, they’re the most beloved time of the week. When the first thing we do each week exists to celebrate success, share gratitude, and learn from one another, it sets a tone that empowers all of us to do our best work. Team members leave excited, energized, and ready to approach new challenges.
The agenda is simple, and identical each week. Our routine starts with an open question, “Who did anything fun or interesting this weekend?” We hear about trips and adventures, half-marathon runs, and learn about national and cultural holidays from around the world. (Admittedly, this time of year, there’s also an inevitable Game of Thrones debate.) We then look at the team calendar, discussing travel plans, birthdays, and get on the same page regarding availability.
“A Good Time for XenoPsi Cheers”
Then we arrive at the central purpose and highpoint of the occasion: the meaningful duo of XenoPsi Cheers and our Project Showcase. Here, we take the time to express gratitude, and embrace the chance to share what we have been working on with the whole organization.
The value of Cheers is obvious. These moments go beyond obligatory thank yous; they provide an opportunity to highlight the contributions of one’s colleagues in a public and sincere way. As Community Manager Steve Rebeiro puts it, “It’s amazing for everyone to be able to recognize and appreciate the work of others. There are people in other departments that I don’t get to work with often, so I appreciate getting to hear what they’re up to and how they’re helping the company move forward every week.”
For Senior HR Consultant Patrick Donohue, it’s the natural and organic flow of XenoPsi Cheers that makes it our most important tradition. “Every member of the agency is encouraged to extend a personal thank you to their coworkers, usually from another team or department. But it’s special because the interactions aren’t formal or planned. The cheers are spontaneous and genuine… they serve to recognize the little extra efforts we do throughout the weeks to support our colleagues.”
Art Director Pat Winfield feels the real purpose of XenoPsi Cheers is to recognize the ways we collaborate on a daily basis. “It is really easy to call out big accomplishments, but when we make the choice to say ‘hey, good job on that small thing,’ it shows we can celebrate those regularly occurring efforts we do to move work forward. Because it’s really those little moments that make up the majority of the work week.”
Work that Inspires and Inspires Us
Cheers naturally gives way to Project Showcase, which according to XenoPsi President MichaelAaron Flicker, serves as “a chance to put our work out there, as well as an opportunity to discuss the work of our peers that we think is really interesting.”
Here, we view finalized projects, watch videos, highlight successful social campaigns, and simply share the results of our efforts. The content can span from large national television commercials to a simple but particularly engaging Instagram post. The point, says Pat Winfield, is “to share the work we do on all levels. It doesn’t matter the brand or the size of the audience. We make really amazing work every day XenoPsi… work we’re really proud of. But we’re busy, and these things can get missed if they aren’t called out and time made for them. Project Showcase makes sure that doesn’t happen.”
It is this celebratory perspective that proves XenoPsi’s difference. As Pat Winfield notes, “I have been in agencies where they have this Monday morning meet up and it is brutal. Two-plus hours and people’s faces are completely checked out… This is such a better way to start the week.”
Connecting a Team from Around the World
While those in our Manhattan headquarters gather in a single physical space, every full-time employee joins Monday Projects from their respective offices across the globe. With nearly 50% of our staff working distributed, it brings a lot of faces together through in our video-conferencing platform. Dunia Ibarra, an Associate Media Director based in Seattle, finds Monday Projects to be the ideal way to check in. “It’s great team building exercise. It’s definitely a way to connect to the distributed team and get to see everyone’s faces.” She adds with a smile, “even if we do appear on particularly large screens first thing in the morning.”
Senior Content Writer Chris Gardner feels the same. “As someone who’s not based in the New York office, Monday projects is the way I get to know many of my colleagues. It becomes the equivalent of passing each other in the hallway or grabbing a cup of coffee: a chance to learn what my teammate’s lives look like outside of work… to find out what their interests are, how they spend their time, and what they care about. It’s how we become friendly with people we don’t get a chance to collaborate with regularly. That’s invaluable when you’re thousands of miles away.”
Nurturing Our Vision
While the primary purpose of Monday Projects is a formal gathering to share successes and gratitude, there’s also an executive benefit for our leadership team. “When we started it, what we said was ‘no matter how big we get, can we not set aside 30 minutes a week to sit together and connect?'” says MichaelAaron Flicker. But regular, company-wide check-ins also promote good and open communication. “Having regular dialog with the staff is key to a healthy, thriving organization. When we have big announcements, such as new hires and departures, the conversation is not disruptive. It becomes part of the pace of the marathon that we’re running together.”
He continues, “What we don’t do at XenoPsi is an all-hands-on-deck, 3pm Friday meeting. We have a better flow of being together and talking about business issues. When we discuss all the wins and losses on a weekly basis, we can avoid that anxiety that comes from needing to bring everybody together. There’s no mystery to gathering as a full group. It doesn’t only happen when we have big announcements, and so full team meetings maintain a reputation of collaboration and positivity.”
The result of these thirty minutes together is a positive, communal hygiene. From an operations and HR point-of-view, the benefit is discernible. Says Patrick Donohue, “The Monday morning tradition goes back to the very start of the company. Like a lot of places, we have a core value of respect and valuing diversity. But more than any place I’ve ever worked, Monday Projects reflects the genuine personal interest we have in each other…whether we’re down the hall from each other or around the world.”
“The minutes it takes to really listen to each other on Monday mornings deepens the relationship with each other and sets the week off with positive energy. The people at XenoPsi are interesting, and they see first-hand that their friends and colleagues have an interest in who they are away from computers and deadlines. It’s one of many elements of XenoPsi culture that encourages mutual understanding and respect across our diversity, and promotes the genuine friendly support our people deserve.”