Closing our offices for a full day is always a risk, and as a business that prides itself on great service we’re aware that shutting our doors might not look good.
We believe it’s worth it, though, because the benefits we get from our Annual Team Day are immeasurable. This year’s event, held last Thursday 9th January at Burleigh Court Conference Centre in Loughborough, was undoubtedly one of the best yet.
I counted 55 Team Members present, also making this one of our largest events yet. There was a great atmosphere right from the start, with an air of anticipation as everyone gathered to enjoy early morning coffee and the delicious snacks that Burleigh Court provide. This continued with a welcome from Julie, who became our ‘Compere without Compare’ for the day, and she began the proceedings by showing the ‘Successes’ video put together by our Marketing Team. You can view it here too.
Making A Difference
I went on to welcome everyone and set the theme for the Day, which was ‘Making a Difference’. I took the emotional temperature of the room using an online voting system, and this showed that there was a range of feelings in the room, from ‘nervous’, to ‘optimistic’, to ‘inspired’. I explained that, in a world that prizes technical excellence and skill, just being there can make a real difference to people. It isn’t often that any of us feel truly heard, and listening intently takes work.
To put our skills into practice we all paired up and spent the next 30 minutes deep in conversation with one of our colleagues, using a prepared ‘conversation starter’ question list. It was obvious from the way everyone engaged in this exercise how much they enjoyed it, and it was a great way to get to know our colleagues better. At the end, I took the temperature again and we discovered that the exercise had dramatically improved the mood in the room, with a clearly measurable change for the better. Talking and listening is good therapy, and structured conversations are even better!
State of the Nation
We then heard from our Heads of Department in their respective ‘State of the Nation’ addresses. Dave, David, Paul and Mark told us about the performance of the Chesterton House and Woodgate Financial Planning, CH Accounting and Woolley Beardsleys & Bosworth businesses. They each looked back to their goals at the start of 2019, how they had measured up, what had been achieved and their new goals for 2020, and it was great to hear about their successes. I was particularly pleased by how the various Teams are working together, with examples of how we had been able to help people by bringing together our three key areas of expertise – financial, accounting and legal – to produce great results for clients.
I also enjoyed reading some of the comments made by clients who have experienced our service. It’s easy to be complacent about how good one’s service is, and that’s why we are careful to obtain our clients’ views and analyse their responses to make sure we’re delivering what people want. There is no doubt that our clients are often delighted by what we do for them, and here was the evidence of that.
An Inspiring Speaker
After a break and more lovely snacks, we introduced our guest speaker for the day, Anthony Bennett. Anthony told us how, as a teenager, he had fallen ill following a school trip and ended up in Great Ormond Street Hospital, where he very nearly died. His heart stopped 12 times before he began to recover, and it was hard to imagine that this lively, talented and enthusiastic young man had been so gravely ill.
Anthony spoke about coming back from adversity, and his experience that your greatest successes often spring from your lowest points, with examples from his life. He talked about the voice in all of our heads that often stops us from saying ‘Yes’, and what could happen if we refuse to listen to it.
I know from feedback we’ve received since that this was one of the highlights for many of those present, and Anthony’s theme fitted perfectly with the message of the day. Here is someone who has clearly made a difference to many, many lives and we were thrilled to have met him and heard his story.
We have our own superstars on our Teams, people who deliver outstanding service to our clients and work really hard to ensure that their knowledge is thorough, current, and pertinent. Richard, our MD, had spent a happy few hours in December recording interviews with some of them, and in the next session he shared them with us. It was inspiring to hear the enthusiasm and professionalism that they contained, and the pride that our Team Members clearly take in doing excellent work for our clients. Thanks guys!
We broke for lunch, with yet more great food from the Burleigh Court kitchens (you can see why we like it there!), which was also an opportunity for people to get to know each other better, and to talk to some of their colleagues who they often don’t come into contact with. Building these relationships is essential to make sure that information flows freely across the organisation, and that Team Members know who to contact if they have a question they need answering on behalf of a client.
Case Study with a Difference
After lunch we got back together for a Case Study exercise. This was designed to test not just the technical expertise of our highly knowledgeable team, but also to show how everyone in the business has an input into the ‘Client Experience’, from the way people are greeted at Reception, to the quality of our coffee, to the way in which documents are presented and delivered. It was a thought provoking session that was helpful in encouraging everyone to value their part in our client interactions. Thanks are due to Dave for putting this exercise together.
Next we had a light-hearted session with a ‘Pub Quiz’. This tested not only our general knowledge but also how well we knew the company and its history, as well as whether we had been paying attention to the morning sessions. Each table worked together in a state of friendly rivalry – it’s amazing how competitive people can become when there’s a prize of a chocolate bar on offer! Jenny was the question-master, and she had clearly been burning the midnight oil to come up with her quiz. Thanks Jenny!
Your Questions Please...
Next up was a Q&A session where we opened up the floor to questions from the whole team. We were able to give more details on our future plans, tell everyone about upgrades to our buildings, and a range of other questions. We’ve always tried to run an open environment where staff can ask any question, and this session was well received.
After a summary by Julie and a brief talk from me, we brought the proceedings to a close, but not before going online again to record everyone’s votes on the day. It was clear that the format had been a great success, and had rewarded the considerable amount of work done in putting it all together. Thanks are due to Jenny and Annabel in our Marketing Team, to all of our speakers including Anthony Bennett, to Burleigh Court for their excellent facilities and care, but most of all to our brilliant Team for making this such a memorable and worthwhile event.
It's going to be a great year!