Friday, February 8, 2008

Investing in Team

Today and tommorrow the HTS team which I lead is at an offsite in Kansas City. We hold an annual all hands retreat each year to bring together our entire team and get people connected and on the same page. We started this back in the late 90's and have been holding a time away and together for 10 years now. It is one of the best investments we make in building team and positioning us for growth.

During our two day event we focus on a number of training objectives. This year we have training being presented by our key vendors - HP, Microsoft, Sonicwall and 3Com. Our distribution partner will be with us as well - Ingram Micro. We will be learning about their key technologies for 2008 and positioning our team as the go to partners with these partners. This year we are taking a page out of the HP playbook by doing a lot of our sales and technical training in one large room with our sales people sitting with the engineering staff that supports them. This is something we learned from sending a couple of our staff to the HP technology summit in Houston last year that has paid big dividends for us. It will allow these small teams of a sales person and the appropriate engineer to talk about specific customers who can benefit from the solutions being presented as we go through the day. Our objective is to leave Saturday afternoon with a list of target clients that we can go present these solution ideas to and hit the ground running.

Of course one of the main purposes of the event is to have fun together. Tonight we have our opening celebration. This years theme is based around the concept of an orchestra and each of our 8 locations will be presenting a song - yes singing or lip syncing - to the group that describes their office. Last year we did an olympic theme and again had each office do a skit along those lines. It gets pretty creative and crazy but there are lots of laughs and pokes at the boss so I just hold on and see what happens. We are blessed to have a great part of our management team in Jane Cage who is awesome at driving this event each year. She is focused on having every detail in place and making sure each person gets the most value possible being at the event.

So what does it cost? A lot. We pull 80 plus people from the field plus feed and house them off site at a hotel in KC. I am typing this blog post from my room there now as we came in a day early as a management team to prepare and make sure we are ready to get the maximum return from our time together. So if we measure the cost in dollars out, we are only looking at one side of the equation. That is what a lot of us do as partners. But when we consider the impact of training, team building, relationships, vendor interaction, distribution interaction and just overall letting our hair down for some fun - it far outweighs the cost. I encourage you to make and take time to build your team. Having a staff that is connected and together on the same page is a key to success and growing your business. You can't get there alone. All of us are smarter than any one of us. It is about us.....not me.

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