Every year shortly after our fiscal year ends on September 30, Purdy-McGuire closes the office for two days to embark on an offsite retreat, adventure, and challenge. We go somewhere off the beaten path (#MoonRiverRanch in 2017) and spend time brainstorming on how we can better serve our clients – being mindful of both external and internal clients.
I’ve been around for a while – I’m XX years old (you didn’t think I’d say my age, did you?), and have attended many a ‘retreat’ and ‘all-employee meeting.’ Presenters at these meetings of days past were typically either pumped up and genuinely excited about the plans for the firm going forward; or they appeared to be practiced and forcibly engaged. But what about the Average Jane Employee? In my experience, most employees attend these meetings primarily (sadly!) because they are required to. Consequently, the lion’s share of the employee group is bored, and many of those who do manage to stay alert are left confused with unasked and unanswered questions! It’s not necessarily so that employees don’t want to go to these meetings or don’t care – it’s often that they don’t grasp the meeting content on a practical level that they can digest. More than that, most employees have very low expectations that anyone will remember what was said in the meeting two weeks hence, or that few if any of the initiatives presented will ever come to fruition. This dropping of the proverbial ball is not usually intentional. But who can keep up that level of excitement for a whole year? Corporate retreats done well provide intangible tools for employees to keep in their quiver for use throughout the year.
At Purdy-McGuire, we * retreat * on a different level. Leading up to the retreat, leadership and employees alike are busy making plans. Teams and disciplines prepare answers to the question, “How can we be better?” Then at the retreat, teams refine plans and plot a course for how to attain goals for the upcoming year. For example, a goal for the electrical discipline could be “coordinate electrical and BAS by involving PMI’s inhouse controls SME earlier in the process.” Every team, including support staff, creates goals. The status of team goals is presented at monthly luncheons.
Everyone is encouraged to have their own * adventure * while at the retreat. The 2-day agenda includes downtime so everyone has an opportunity to truly retreat. Fun group activities are also built into the agenda, so we can nurture the bond between us without the stress of looming deadlines. Typically, the retreat venue is a place with a scant wireless signal – which means everyone works extra prior to the retreat to ensure client work is delivered on time – or early. However, don’t be deceived: we may be away from our brick-and-mortar office, but we are still responsive to client needs. So another part of our adventure is providing seamless client support during this time.
Finally, we always face * challenges * while away. No matter how well we thought we did last year, we are challenged to do better. We’re challenged to bolster our relationships with our clients and with each other. We are challenged to have quality standards that ignite a fire on our team, and to have infectious enthusiasm and passion for what we do. Finally – and this is a biggie – just as our leaders show their appreciation for us during April each year, we are challenged to come up with a goofy yet respectful, meaningful yet totally nutso way to honor our Principals. As we turned 60 this year, the premise was that we attended Purdy-McGuire’s 60th Family Reunion (we put the “FUN” in “dysfunctional!”), and employees were “interviewed” about their experience as they left the reunion. (Unfortunately, I can’t share the video – you must have been ‘in the moment’ to understand it anyway…) We are blessed with leaders who know that they will be the centerpiece for something totally nuts at some point during the retreat. But they also know that it is our way of honoring them in a zany and fun and totally Purdy-McGuire fashion. Since they don’t know what we’ve planned, I’m sure they look forward to this part with some trepidation…but being good leaders, they provide great examples for how to be good sports!
This year’s retreat was a roaring success – and I’m already anticipating Retreat 2018! For more fun pics about PMI’s retreat and overall culture, visit us on Facebook and check out our albums.