Monday, February 9, 2009

The Importance of Investing in Team

HTS held it's annual company retreat (12th year now) last weekend at the Doubletree in Kansas City. We have been doing an off site for many years now and it is extremely valuable in many ways. We started when we were a much smaller company and it was important then, but now that we are multi-site in multi-states it is critical. Providing an opportunity to connect and learn is critical for company growth and success.

This year we wrestled briefly with the idea of cancelling the event. It is, after all, difficult economic times. There are plenty of reasons to not spend the cash. We take the team down and do a 1.5 day event so there is food, hotel rooms, transporation, evening activities - lots of cost and expense to pull this off. The world says to slash and cut things that are not mission critical. I don't buy it. I still remember Matt Medeiros from SonicWall stating that "you can't cut your way to profitability". I concur with that 100%. To follow the logic of the media we should have not handed out bonuses to our team, which we did, not given them each a book to read and share, which we did, and certainly not spent the money to do the event at a quality location like the Doubletree. But the media is wrong. Success during difficult times will come to those who stay the course and do the right things the right way every day.

We spent all Friday afternoon in training by functional teams. Good content relevant to job function was shared for our sales, technical, dispatch and admin teams. Friday evening we had a team dinner, our annual skit which this year was around The Price is Right theme, our HTS awards, and then we went bowling. Talk about knocking down walls and connecting people. There is no better way than to laugh and have fun together. That is what builds team.

Saturday we focused more on dealing with the situation we are facing - tough economy and never ending media attempts to destroy people's confidence in the future. Scott led us through the SWOT process on our company by location. We had an exercise where we broke down in small groups and came up with the value propositions HTS has to bring to our markets. Both were very good at connecting people in small groups to talk about what our 2009 needs to look like. We did address the economy head on, and I also talked about the importance of connecting and communicating with the customer. We have to stay close. We ended our time with a gift of the Go Giver book and a request for each of our team to read it, report on it to me, and then share it with one of our customers. Already I have had team members email me their thoughts and some even went to the bookstore already yesterday to buy more copies to share with people. Larry said it so well when he spoke to our sales team - we need to say a lot more thank you's and show our appreciation to those we touch.

Investments in team are never a mistake. Big orgs love to make it look like cost cutting and big savings when they cancel things like this. It doesn't have to be extravagent. We didn't go to the most expensive place in KC and eat the most expensive food. But we were together in a nice venue and focused on learning and growing and becoming a team. That investment will pay dividends for years. If you aren't doing it, you need to. If you are thinking of cutting back on team investment - don't. It is the best money you can spend!


Ed Laprade - ADNET Technologies, Inc. said...

Arlin makes a very good point - don't stop doing what you are doing – IF it is successful. That is the message I take away. In reading the article closely, I think we need to be careful to not get too caught up in the success that HTS has had with their program. It works for them and they have been doing it a long time. Fits with “keep doing what is successful”. I can't speak for Arlin, but given the current economic times, I don't think the intent was to suggest we create a similar program of our own. While it is a great idea, for many it would be ill timed to start right now.

The Peer Guy said...

Great point Ed. My message is not to quit doing things that work because of the economy. Now more than ever we need to do the things that have gotten us where we are today!