Speed Dating - Recognition Style

 *Special thanks to Roxanne Torbiak for permission to share this exercise.

Depending on the work context, you may wish to play down the “speed dating” analogy; an alternate title could be “Greatness Matching”. Having worked with groups where dating in the workplace was an “issue”, knowing your audience and history is a consideration here. Changing the name makes it a perfectly neutral exercise!


This exercise is great because it:

Allows you to get to know many people quickly

Perfect for new colleagues or peers from other departments

Enables individuals to see commonalities in their greatness

Creates better awareness of recognition done well

Is fun, energizing and uplifting



Flipchart, whiteboard or index cards listing the questions below (if using index cards, create one per “speed date” pair)

Flipchart or whiteboard markers (if applicable)

Timer (e.g. egg timer, smartphone)




1. Set up tables in rows, with chairs on both horizontal sides (facing each other). If don’t have chairs and tables can do standing up facing each other.

2. Write the following questions on a space that is visible to all participants (or given out to each person on index cards): a. What does recognition done well look like to you?

b. Describe a time where someone hit it out of the park when recognizing you. What was meaningful about that experience?


3. Have participants take a seat


4. Explain the first part of the exercise: a. You will be asked to share your thoughts to these questions.

b. This exercise will take [insert number of minutes here - Note: it will take 2 minutes per pair].

c. The person facing you is your first partner

d. Take 2 minutes (about 1 minute per person) to share your responses to the questions.

e. When you hear the noisemaker, the people on the far side of me will switch on to the right. If you are the last one on the right you will quickly walk to the vacant spot.


5. Use the noisemaker every 2 minutes on the dot. Keep the group moving. Allow for as many rotations as you have time for.

6. Debrief


Debriefing Questions:

What were some of the “ah ha” moments you had about recognizing greatness?

Where did you have commonalities with your colleagues?

Who would you work well with based on shared greatness or factors that would compliment each other?

What did you learn that you could incorporate in recognizing greatness in others?


Translation to a Work Setting:

Use this exercise as a team building experience with new teams or multidisciplinary teams

When planning recognition initiatives, use this exercise as a springboard for a brainstorming session (taking what the group shared and building on it).

This exercise could be adapted to a one-on-one setting i.e. a “getting to know you conversation” between a boss and new employee. The discussion will help the boss understand how the new employee wants to be recognized as well as provide the new employee insight into the preferences of management

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