September was a big month for our team. We spent one full week out of the (virtual) office at a beautiful farmhouse in Scotland. All 18 of us from 6 different countries! This month’s PF Marketing round up shares the impact the retreat has had on our team and our clients and details on the sessions and activities we planned and enjoyed. If you’re thinking about running a retreat or a team day for your firm, there’s lots of inspiration below!
We started planning the retreat around 9 months ago and a team of us were responsible for the preparations and planning of travel, accommodation, food, sessions, activities. We were careful not to stuff the team retreat agenda full of sessions where the team sit, listen, share ideas, create an action list with 87 things and then just feel like we’ve added yet more to full plates.
The sessions at retreat were instead crafted to focus on 1. the culture at PF and how the individual strengths within team help shape the culture and 2. making progress on projects we’ve already started.
We hope you enjoy reading the stories and learnings and seeing some pictures from our time away and would love to hear any ideas you have for your own team day(s)!
The real impact of retreat on our team and clients
There were so many highlights from our retreat and many include the getting to spend time together, have in-person conversations, make and share food together. Hugging! All these things are great and important and worth reflecting on.
What we also need to do is take the time to recognise how a team retreat helps our team do better work and how this then helps our clients. Here’s some of the improvements the team have seen in their own work since retreat:
“I’m leaning more in my confidence and decisiveness and am recognising what I do can best and how that’s seen by other people and our clients.”
“I’m paying better attention to the little things which help build relationships with clients. Not rushing off a call early, but instead taking the time to have a chat about life things.”
“I’m leaning more into compassion for myself and being more realistic with my days. I’m feeling more in control and are able to do better work for my clients.”
“I better understand my place in PF and what my contribution to the team looks like. It’s helped to stop over-thinking things and instead, just go ahead and do them.”
“I’m helping my clients by being more confident in directing them as to what I believe and know is the best work for them to be doing.”
“I’ve recognised how many people are available to me who I can ask for help from, and identify better who’s best to ask and how that’ll help me, PF and our clients.”
What we got up to: sessions!
This was the session which stuck out the most to us in showing how far we’ve come as a company, and as a team.
It was the live version of the “Karen’s Den” sessions we instituted at the start of the year (15 or 30 minute slots in Karen’s diary for team members to book and share an idea, pitch a specific plan or share wonderings about something that’s possibly worth pursuing).
Each team got given a fictional amount of money (we said £5k) and were tasked with pitching an idea for what they would do with it for PF if it was handed to them today.
We thought everyone would come up with some wild and crazy ideas. Fun things we could together with maybe a couple of options we could consider.
What we ended up with was four solid, practical, realistic ideas: all of which we can do. And all of which we most likely will do over the next year.
Even more than that, the £5k was primarily related to the team’s time. We’ve been working for years to help the team understand the value of their time. That quoting for one job with a certain number of hours, and using twice that many hours to do it, costs the company.
The importance of profitability, and efficiency. Understanding how profits work. How sales are nice but profits help us do what we want to do as individuals and as a company.
This Den Live session showed us how well our team are embracing it and are curious and serious about their own contributions to the company’s profitability.
Recognising individual strengths:
These were the most powerful sessions and the toughest sessions for our team. Which is why we knew they had to be a focus of our retreat.
We recognised a few months back that phrases like “She’s better than me at that.” or “I’m not so great at this” were common among the team.
Even when it came to the strengths sessions, which were focused on recognising and sharing your strengths, we’d start out by sharing what we weren’t as good at.
In the first of two sessions, each team member sat and listened while the rest of the team listed out all their strengths and skills. It was a real challenge to listen, without being able to respond, to a team of creatives sharing all the great things about you.
On the last day, each person shared a specific way they would lean into the very strengths we mentioned on day one. Something realistic, practical, doable. Even then, some of us still struggled to remember what our strength was, or defaulted to saying “I’m not as good at.”
We’ve definitely made progress though. It’s getting easier the more we work on it and it’s helped the whole team’s confidence grow in their own unique ways.
During retreat, each team member got the opportunity to visually introduce themselves to the rest of the team. We used the storytelling format of ‘PechaKucha’: sharing 20 slides and talking about each one for 20 seconds.
Whether the team member had worked for PF for a long time, or was very new to the team, it was fascinating to learn more about each other in this visual way.
We kicked them off with Karen sharing her story, and the story of PF, and how it’s now becoming “our story”. It was so powerful to see where PF started almost 11 years ago, to where we are now. And to see the growth opportunities we have.
The rest of the team sharing their background and journeys to PF. Some of us have been doing a creative role for many years, others tried different industries before finding their place at PF.
We saw lots of adorable baby pictures and enjoyed photos of the team’s families, pets, home countries, favourite foods, hobbies. There were hard things shared too about family and loss and struggles and how that’s shaped us to be the people we are today.
Getting to know your team as individuals, and giving them the platform and space to be able to share about themselves, helps immensely in understanding how they work, how they share ideas and how you can help them do the best work they can for your firm.
What else we got up to: activities!
Team retreat was about balance. And so along with the deep and productive sessions, we also had a lot of fun!
We split into two groups and half of us enjoyed paddle boarding, and the other half kayaking! Both in the beautiful (and pretty cold) waters of St Andrews.
A scavengar hunt was another activity on the list! This involved breaking up into teams, and each team had to find an object in either the house or garden which began with a letter from the word ‘Creative’.
I (Steph) was responsible for organising this one and I knew the team would do great at it. I was still blown away by the teamwork, imagination and collaboration each team showed when presenting their objects! It was full marks all round for our amazing team of creatives.
We went for a beautiful lunch at the Old Course Hotel in St Andrews followed by a round of putting on the famous greens!
The retreat wasn’t a holiday or time off and we made sure to be intentional about how we used the time which included these lighter, fun activities which support team work, culture and collaboration!
That’s everything from us for this month! If there’s a question we haven’t answered yet, or you’re not sure where to find it, just let us know and we’ll look after you. And keep up the really great work.
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