This past Thursday and Friday, Bangert held the 2nd iteration of our quarterly, company-wide, All-Hands meeting. These meetings are a time for us to get together, connect as a team, and focus on the most important things that will move the company forward in the next 13 weeks.
We have been thrilled to see an overwhelmingly positive response from our team on the benefits of these in-person meetings:
“The team was engaged and enthusiastic about Digital Transformation and Digital First Content. I felt we walked away with everyone knowing what their most important objective is for Q4!”
“I would say getting out of the house and having some actual face time with coworkers and enjoy time not all related to work.”
“I enjoy Kurt talking about the business and the direction we need to go in the future. I find this motivating knowing he is motivated with the business and all our futures.”
Where the idea started
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to progress in late 2020 and early 2021, we knew that the way in which we do work was ultimately going to change long-term. We knew we had to take the company 100% remote and transition to full-time work from home. This was a difficult decision – both mentally and financially. The company had maintained a physical office for over 35 years and breaking that was going to be a challenge.
We quickly realized that the number one “con” for working remotely was the inability to foster connections, both as individuals and as a team, that only meeting in-person can fulfill. We brainstormed and came to the conclusion of allocating our office expense budget directly to bringing our team together for 2 days each quarter.
Rewards outweigh the risk
Hosting a 2-day, in-person internal event is an expensive undertaking. Between flights, hotel, food, incidentals, event spaces, experiences, and taking the entire company offline for 2 working days, it is a watershed investment for your company’s shareholders to make. The first thought is “how will this be received by our customers?” At the end of the day, they rely on us day-in and day-out to solve complex business challenges. But with consistent and clear communication we found that customers were excited and encouraged that we were taking a couple of days to work on our business, instead of in it.
How we planned for a small team under 20 people
Like most small businesses, we saw demand exponentially increase in 2020 and through 2021, with our ability to supply getting stretched. Between ensuring our customers’ expectations were met and hiring the right people for the right seats, planning an event that would draw our team to Kansas City from across the country was a big idea.
The following are steps we took, and you can take as well, to hold a quarterly all-hands meeting:
- Meet as a Leadership Team first to identify what the most important thing is that will move the company forward – this will be your agenda’s focus.
- Create a company-wide travel chart, listing everything from departure airports to dietary preferences.
- Keep it simple and leave the logistics to the pros – while some (read most) event spaces will charge for just about everything but oxygen, finding workarounds to avoid charges will lead to a less-focused, less-productive meeting overall. Every aspect you are unwilling to pay the event space for, you will need to allocate a resource to manage.
- Create a small team responsible for check-in gift bags!
- Set clear expectations.
- Make the agenda visible to all, we use Zoho Backstage.
Provide an after-hours method of communication, in case of last-minute delays or issues.
A big hurdle in kickstarting a quarterly all-hands initiative is the agenda. Where do you start and how do you build the agenda? Luckily, we have EOS on our side and we adapt best practices from that. Below is a sample agenda:
- Breakfast & Settle In
- Review Agenda
- Company Check-In
- 1 Personal Best for the prior quarter
- 1 Business Best for the prior quarter
- Prior Quarter Review
- New customers
- Successful implementations
- Company health
- Progress on yearly goals
- Walk Through Vision/Traction Organizer
- Core Values
- Core Focus
- 10-Year Target
- Marketing Plan
- 1-Year Plan
- Quarterly Plan
- Team Building Activity
- Vision for the Quarter
- Were your expectations met?
- Meeting rating 1-10
- Group Dinner Experience
- Breakfast & Settle In
- Highlights and learning from Day 1
- Re-state your expectations
- Are your expectations being met or not?
- Departmental Breakouts
- Rocks (Goals) Sharing
- Feedback (where is your head/how are you feeling?)
- Were your expectations met?
- Rating 1-10
The Ultimate Goal
We aim to have everyone walk away with a positive rating (8 or above on a scale of 1-10) and to have their expectations met with a clear head. For me, one of my three measurables as COO is Team Health and it is crucial that we collect, listen and act on feedback in order to provide the best possible experience for the team as a whole. Here are our 30,000-ft primary goals and objectives:
- Get together, reconnect
- Review where we have been, where we are at now, and where we are going
- Center around the vision and focusing on what’s most important to accomplish in the next 13 weeks
- Solve issues
- Develop individual rocks (goals) that will help move the company forward
- Come away with next steps
At the end of the day, we want our team to walk away feeling fulfilled and excited for the quarter ahead, understanding the critical stake everyone has in achieving our goals. Our decision to get everyone together on a regular basis has become a cornerstone of building relationships, ensuring Team Health, and enabling growth. We look forward to continuing this practice for decades to come.