The Benefits of Staff Conferences

Kobi Simmat talks of the benefits of staff conferences, getting everyone on the same page and the psychological benefits of showing employees how their efforts are pushing the organisation forward.

Yesterday, we wrapped up a two-day staff conference for all the staff under the umbrella. It was two days filled with great conversations and insights, tough questions and inspiring answers, and I’ve got no doubt that each and every staff member leaving those two days will be filled with confidence and motivation to go out and excel at their job. In a nutshell, this is what you should be aiming for with your staff get-together; it’s not a mere formality, this is an essential part of building a robust and productive team.

Organisations that see the value in taking this time out will almost certainly be rewarded, and those that don’t are at risk of losing both purpose and direction in the business, as well as the motivation from their staff members. Considering the last part of that sentence, how likely to do you think success is for an organisation without motivated staff that are working in harmony toward the one goal? This is why I believe staff conferences are an invaluable and essential part of operating in the modern business context.

“It’s not a mere formality- this is an essential part of building a robust and productive team.”

I’ll let you in on a few of the secret recipes we use at our staff meetings- and why we do them. First off, we separate into the divisions of sales, marketing, operations etc, and we have an in-depth look at the numbers. Similar to the way a management review session is conducted, we take a long hard look at where we’re sitting, and where we want to be. If the numbers have been tracking in the direction we want them to be, we take an appreciative inquiry approach to making improvements- doubling down on what we’re doing well. For the numbers that aren’t performing as strongly, we take some time out to throw ideas and solutions around, and we try to end that session with a handful of ideas that can turn these numbers around.

From here, we become one big group again, for good reason. It’s easy to be hindered by the boundaries inside your organisation, and this is counterproductive when it comes to problem solving if you’ve got too rigid of a structure separating the communication between divisions. Perhaps someone in sales has an invaluable insight into how the operations or marketing team could improve one of those underperforming statistics, but as it stands, they’re unlikely to communicate this to the other department. When we sit down as one big group, we try to break down those barriers and remind everyone that it’s one team, not four or five divisions.

“When we sit down as one big group, we try to break down those barriers and remind everyone we’re one team, not four or five divisions.”

One of the most important things about having a staff conference is to remind everyone of exactly how their efforts tie into the larger picture. It was no coincidence that the theme of our staff conference was micro and macro- how everyone’s little accomplishments for the day tie into the wider picture of our organisation as a whole. Lately I’ve been reading quite a lot on the topic of keeping motivated, and this is no doubt one of the bedrocks of the research- people need to be reminded of how their daily activities keep the organisation as a whole moving forward. The pace and direction of that movement is one accountability of the management team which is addressed in the quarterly strategic review of management review sessions, but not all employees are included in these sessions, so it’s an invaluable chance to get everyone on the same page in terms of how they’re helping to push the organisation forward.

Now, counter to what you might think, I’m not facilitating these sessions or speaking first- I’m actually speaking last. I’ve done enough homework to know that if the leader is the first to speak, they’re likely to bias the audience. It’s human nature, after all, that we want our insight and opinion to feed into what the leader of the organisation believes. This is also useful in getting to see what’s going on in the minds of my staff members, so I’m writing down notes as I hear them talk to address their key concerns with solutions that will make them more effective in their role and more motivated in the organisation. I did, however, use this as an opportunity to give my staff the inside scoop as to where I see this organisation moving in the near and far future, to make sure they feel like an important piece of the puzzle. The reality is that they are an important part, but too often leaders and management fail to impart this to their staff members.

The rest of the time we spend together is focussed on improving their skills and motivated. I invited a handful of industry and motivational speakers designed to make tangible changes stemming from our aspirations. It was a great two-days, and I for one feel pumped when I think about the next twelve months and beyond! I can’t speak completely for my staff, but I’ve got the suspicion they feel the same way. Remember, when it comes to putting this in practice in your organisation, the overarching goal to get everyone on the same page, and look at how they can make the next 12 months even better than the last. You want to make each and every member of your staff feel valued and appreciated, and as soon as you take the time out to give your staff this gratitude and motivation, they’re likely to come to work the next day significantly more motivated than the day before.

Thanks for reading.

Kobi Simmat.

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