We recently had an off-site staff development day with our leadership team and employees. I’ve always struggled with the idea of moving away from the office for these sorts of events. For one, why do we need to go off-site to do what we could do in the office? I mean, we have space to meet there, which also would have been cheaper. Still, another voice inside my head told me, It’s good to change things up.
So, this year we did something a little different – we decided to have three parts to our day instead of one big activity. First, we began with a review and utilization of one of our personality assessment tools. This proved to be an enjoyable way to get to know each other’s communication styles better, and it also easily related back to our work in client relations.
Second, we cooked together. We were split into four different groups and were tasked with making a part of our lunch. We used this activity to intentionally partner people who wouldn’t normally work together. This part of the day was about fun and getting to know each other in a different environment. And it worked – we laughed and saw different sides of people we wouldn’t normally see in a work context.
Finally, the third part of the day was set aside to revisit our mission and values with everyone. It had been about five years since we had done this with a critical eye, and it ended up being the most meaningful part of the day.
In my consulting work, I have often worked with organizations whose leadership teams go off-site to create beautifully worded values and mission statements. However, when they return to proudly announce their new mission and values, they are confused as to why employees aren’t as excited about them, and thus don’t buy into them.
I have learned that when you want buy-in from staff on major issues and items, it is far better to involve everyone in the discussion, so that’s what we did. We had a lengthy and meaningful conversation about our mission and values. We ended up keeping the core meaning of our mission (in our experience, the mission of an organization rarely changes), but changed it to be more inspirational. We also added a value (more on that in my next blog) that we want to hold each other accountable to.
Most importantly, what resulted was feeling that we are all part of something special, and we are all moving in the same direction. Our off-site staff development day was well worth the time and costs!