You may have noticed that we weren't in the office a couple of weeks ago? Our Annual 'Team Day' has become a regular event, on which we close up our offices, put the phones on voicemail, and take all of our staff to a local venue. John Bolton, Marketing Executive, explains why we shut up shop for the day.
This year our Team Day took place in the comfortable surroundings of Holywell Park, part of Loughborough University. We have a lot of different teams and departments - in fact let's see if I can remember them all: Planning; Paraplanning; Administration; Accounting Services; Woolley Beardsleys & Bosworth Solicitors; Reception; Operations and Marketing. Phew! Anyway, here we all are outside Chesterton House:
All of these smiley people are spread across three buildings, so it's quite likely that, if you are a client, you will only have come into contact with a small number of them. Importantly for us, individual Team members may not meet colleagues either. Team Day is designed to get everyone together in one room (easier said than done) and discuss what happened last year, along with our plans for the year to come.
This year the day's theme was Synergy, which can be defined as:
"the interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects." Oxford Dictionaries
In short, this means that one plus one can equal more than two, and we think it describes how our teams work together for the benefit of our clients. It was a word that we heard many times during the day, with lots of ideas about how we can improve results by sharing ideas and processes, and building on our strengths to deliver even better service and outcomes for clients.
To align with our theme we organised everyone onto tables with members of different departments, with table swaps during the day. This provided a great opportunity not only to find out more about colleagues day-to-day responsibilities, but also about the person behind the staff member.
We had a bit of time to catch up with our fellow table-members before Andy Jervis, Company Chairman, kicked off the day with a short introduction on the various successes staff achieved last year. Our employees are constantly looking to enhance their skills, whether it's through exams, courses or even first aid training, and Andy showed a short video summarising some of our successes, created by our Marketing Team. You can watch it here.
Andy went on to talk about the importance of doing work that has meaning. He mentioned some key areas that make the difference between doing a job and following a vocation, one of which is the impact that we have on our clients' lives. We heard more about this throughout the day.
Next up we had presentations on the State of the Nation - our term for finding out what each of our departments had been doing. Heads of departments in Financial Planning, Accounting Services and Woolley, Beardsleys & Bosworth gave our staff the chance to hear what each department achieved in 2018, their forecasts for 2019 and what we will all need to do to achieve this. It was great to hear about our successes and the direction we are all heading in, and I'm sure that everyone felt the same sense of pride and motivation as me after these presentations.
The presentations were rounded off with a few facts and figures to celebrate the company's successes throughout 2018 - last year Chesterton House and Woolley, Beardsleys & Bosworth LLP completed:
270 Tax Returns
250 Property Transactions
59 total business accounting clients
36 new Financial Plans
We often get a guest speaker in to talk on a range of relevant and fascinating topics, and this year it was John Dashfield on "Awakening to your True Potential". We've worked with John for numerous years, in fact you may remember that he kindly let us reproduce one of his articles on our blog, which discusses the effects of money and whether it can actually make you happy or not. This presentation was equally interesting and thought-provoking. John described the nature of thought, and where ideas, attitudes and actions arise from. There was a lot to reflect on, and John clearly had an impact on his audience judging from the comments afterwards. Thank you John for attending and speaking.
One thing that Holywell Park does very well is lunch. Of course that's not the only reason we were there..... but it was also a great opportunity to speak to colleagues, meet other Team members and find out more about the wide range of activities that take place across our businesses.
After lunch we all felt particularly full and sleepy, so to rev everyone up the Social Committee organised an activity. This time it was jigsaws... with a twist!
There were eight different, 100-piece jigsaws, one for each table, which our tables had to complete. Simple right?What they didn't know is that each table had 8 of their pieces randomly placed on other tables. Cue pandemonium.
Each table had different tactics, whether it was sending out an ambassador to barter for the pieces they needed, scouting other tables from afar or even stockpiling the pieces (you know who you are). Teams were rushing to have their puzzles completed first, which is interesting as this was never specified as the ultimate goal.
Once the first team to finish was revealed (well done Table 7), the Social Committee let everyone know that they now had seven minutes to complete all of the jigsaws in the room. Everyone subsequently worked together to complete the remaining puzzles, tying in the day's theme of synergy.
After a quick coffee break it was time for the moment many of us had been waiting for - a live Q&A with a panel of influential members of the business, facilitated by John Dashfield. All questions were submitted to Slido, a website dedicated to Q&A and polling platform that allowed for anonymous questioning and question-ranking based on popularity. After a wealth of compelling responses to some of the burning questions we all wanted answering, it was time to go home and reflect upon a day filled with facts, figures, plans, presentations... and puzzles!
Looking back, I've only really scratched the surface of the day's activities, and there was a lot that I haven't mentioned. All in all, it was another very enjoyable and worthwhile event that definitely achieved one of its objectives of bringing our teams together and learning from each other. Roll on Team Day 2020!
When we get all our team together in one room, or for a group photo such as the one above, it puts into perspective just how much Chesterton House has grown over the past few years. We're extremely proud of all our staff and look forward to another fantastic year as part of this company.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also like Reflections from our Investment Committee