Westbury recently held a team workshop for all of its employees, the first of its kind for a long time, and felt by many to be long overdue. Apart from the facilitators, all the rest of the team knew about the afternoon was that the partners would not be there for most of it, as they thought (quite rightly) that this would provide a better and more comfortable forum for the rest of the team.
Two of us were asked by the partners to plan and facilitate the session, a challenge which we accepted, and we then turned our minds to planning what would, hopefully, be a really proactive session, with a successful outcome. The aim for the team at Westbury was to come up with ideas in which to improve the firm – not only in terms of working there but also in terms of providing an even better service than we already do for our clients.
We held a mixture of activities, including brainstorming sessions involving the whole group, and splitting up into smaller teams to tackle more specific issues and then sharing ideas with the rest of the group. At the end of the afternoon, the partners joined us and each team had to present a marketing pitch to them, to sell the ideas which had been generated throughout the session and encourage them to ‘buy-in’ to taking them further.
From an attendee’s point of view, it was a very interesting afternoon, made even more interesting because:
- A venue had been hired for the afternoon for us to hold our team workshop, which meant that we were not disturbed by clients phone calls or partners;
- Only the facilitators knew beforehand what was to be on the agenda, the layout of the afternoon or the specific issues we would be discussing, the rest of us only knew that the partners would not be present until the very end;
- We were put into groups, and it was designed in such a way we were not with our friends; and
- When the partners did turn up, we had to pitch our ideas to them, but we were only told 45 minutes before that they would be there to hear our pitches.
The fact that the partners were not there made it easier for us to be more open and forthright with sharing our ideas. It encouraged team building, especially with those we wouldn’t normally interact so much with. Also by pitching our ideas to the partners there was a real possibility of them being implemented. There really was such an amazing atmosphere and energy in the room.
It was great to see that we, as a company, really are capable of some excellent teamwork and idea generation when we actually put our minds to it. The quality and quantity of good ideas that we all came up with amazed us all. It was an excellent and very productive afternoon. There was a real buzz in the room when everyone was working together to come up with ideas and solutions to problems or questions, which we were all too aware of but had never before addressed as a whole team.
The end result was that we had a set of ideas and goals which the whole company agreed on, which, in time, can be fine-tuned and implemented to the good of the company and, in turn, its clients. Some company’s hire specialist consultants to address this sort of thing, but the team afternoon proved that, in our case, this isn’t always necessary. Anyone looking for new ideas for their company might find it useful to start by asking and involving their employees, as you may be pleasantly surprised by just how much they can come up with. The key is to working out which ideas to take forwards, and how to ensure that they are effective. Some of the ideas are already being implemented, with more to come.
Hopefully the results will be as good as the ideas!
Sonal Thakkar (Workshop Attendee / Audit Supervisor) and Rebecca Hall (Workshop Facilitator / Production Manager)
Westbury Accountants and Business Advisors is an accountancy practice based in London. Westbury have been providing Accounting and Tax solutions to small and medium sized businesses since 1936. Talk to the team at Westbury on 0207 253 7272 or visit http://www.westbury.co.uk.