Working with the best talent in the world, virtually from different corners of the world, there are many benefits, however, a key challenge can be personal connections. That personal connection can get lost quickly between headsets, video conferences and chat rooms. To improve these connections, twice a year Five Q turns talking heads into real 3D people and brings everyone together in person.
Here are a few tips from Five Q on holding a successful in-person team meeting and some examples of how they played out recently when our team came together in Atlantic, Iowa. Atlantic is the hometown of Five Q CEO, Chad Williams population 7,000 in rural Iowa. While it may not have a Dave and Busters, Starbucks or even a Scooters, it is a wonderful town with some of the friendliest people you will meet.
TIP ONE: Maximize your time
Each team member is leaving his or her home. They are stepping away from spouses, babies, pets, soccer games, anniversaries…even hacker groups and Jazzercise classes. And although most are hungry for interaction with their co-workers, it’s still a real sacrifice to leave home for a nearly a week. It’s important to remember the sacrifices and use the your time wisely so that everyone leaves recharged.
Working with the best talent in the world, virtually from different corners of the world, there are many benefits. A key challenge, however, can be personal connections. That personal connection can get lost quickly between headsets, video conferences and chat rooms. To improve these connections, twice a year Five Q turns talking heads into real 3D people and brings everyone together in person.
Here are a few tips from Five Q on holding a successful in-person team meeting and some examples of how they played out recently when our team came together in Atlantic, Iowa. Atlantic is the hometown of Five Q CEO, Chad Williams, population 7,000 in rural Iowa. While it may not have a Dave and Busters, Starbucks or even a Scooter’s, it is a wonderful town with some of the friendliest people you will meet.
TIP TWO: Make sure your DNA shines through
Know who you are as a company, and know the heart and passions of your team. What does this look like for Five Q? We always start with a State of the Company from our leader. Transparency is part of the DNA at Five Q. There are no walls or hierarchy of knowledge. Each and every team member knows what is going on with Five Q at any time. Because we support ministries, it is even more critical that this be the heart of who we are as a company. Generosity is also a part of the DNA at Five Q, so to demonstrate this at our recent meeting one of our activities was to show random acts of kindness throughout the Atlantic community. We set out with teams and a budget demonstrating acts of kindness to unsuspecting strangers. For example, one team paid for customers drinks at a local coffee shop; another purchased single flowers and handed them to women shopping at the local grocery store.
TIP THREE: Don’t wait until you see the whites of their eyes
Be social before you even see one another. A couple days before getting together Five Q started a hashtag challenge. Our team was given a list of hashtag ‘opportunities’ then asked to post images & hashtags to social media. There were photos with airline crew, luggage, team arrivals and even sunsets and breakfast along the way. And the fun continued throughout team meeting with quotes overheard, bits of wisdom shared and vine videos of stacks of cats (translated: inside jokes that build culture.) It was also a great connection for our clients following us!
TIP FOUR: Learn from one another
Five Q has hired some insanely skilled people, and we would be crazy not to learn from one another. At our last team meeting we had an afternoon dedicated to just that. Twelve members of our team shared Pecha Kucha presentations on topics of their choice. We learned from each other on a wide variety of topics including: fueling creative thinking, building relationships in a distributed environment, coding, and creating an environment conducive to high traffic sites. Keep your eyes peeled! We recorded these presentations and will be sharing them throughout the year on our blog.
TIP FIVE: Set goals
While getting together in-person is a huge boost in morale, it is also about getting down to serious business. We go into the week with a clear set of goals and are focused on making it a successful week. We are currently focused on three specific initiatives at Five Q that we call “The Big Three”. Cool, I know. We went into team meeting and planned around the goal to advance these initiatives specifically. Planning these goals in advance helped us to focus, allowing us to maximize our time together and use it to bring the most value to not just our company, but more importantly, our clients.
TIP SIX: Provide real value
The structure of our time together in-person is much like that of a normal work day. Much of the day we are feeding one another professionally, working through new tools or walking through a new process. If it affects everyone (or a majority) we learn together. It’s also been beneficial to spend focused time on what is going on in the various departments. Programmers don’t always have a great pulse on what is going on in sales and the programming team may be working on an incredibly unique solution that one of our ministry partners could benefit from. With a room of experts and great thinkers it is amazing the creative solutions that come from putting these sharp minds to solving problems.
TIP SEVEN: Playing hard is JUST as important as working hard
We all know clear goals, learning together and tackling challenges are important. However, time together needs to have a good balance of focused learning, development time, as well as down time to connect and share experiences. Sacrificing either of these would be detrimental. What does down time look like? That is up to you and your team. Take advantage of where you are. Go skiing, bowling, climb bear cages (insert your own logical warning on safety), laser tag, ropes course, white water rafting or rent sumo suits. If you find yourself in the center of cornfields and cattle farms (Atlantic, Iowa), then you have Nerf gun wars and sit outside and eat homemade peach cobbler. The memories of time spent together having fun and connecting personally will build the relationships that carry your team through the thorns and thistles that come from working miles apart.
TIP EIGHT: Wrap up with intention
Your team will eventually go back to their desks in different cities and farms, most likely in different time zones. The charge that comes from being together will be the fuel needed until the next team meeting. Take time to wrap-up together as a team and list ways that you can turn your time together into actions with lasting impact, because that impact will bring incredible value to your staff, your culture, and inevitably the clients you are serving.