By: Elizabeth Toomey
On Thursday, February 9th, Sullivan Engineering held its annual planning retreat. Due to a forecasted winter storm, the team arrived at the hotel where it was being held on Wednesday night. This lead to an impromptu social gathering, great conversations, and what most believe should be a new retreat tradition. As a rapidly growing company, many bright new faces joined our more veteran staff, filling the conference room to capacity. Everyone was eager to learn from and reflect on the past year’s experience, along with understanding and committing to the firm’s future success. The day was filled with presentations on vision, project management, marketing, human resources, finance, company culture and leadership. Various departments showcased what they have been working on, along with future strategies and goals. We delved more deeply into the EOS process we operate under, specifically the organization, strategies, policies, procedures and commitment that govern our daily work lives. The visionary presentation outlined our one year plan, three year plan, and ten year target. Leadership presented and reviewed the current picture and detailed their expectations of our present team and future recruits. Questions and comments were encouraged at the end of each presentation, which lead to topical discussions and varied input regarding our firm’s further growth and future success.
Day two of the retreat began with a presentation by Jim Neidhardt on the DISC behavior assessments that each team member had previously taken. Written by psychologist William Moulton Marston, the DISC theory explains that people fall under four behavioral types, usually being a combination of at least two. These analyses can help business leaders to inspire and motivate their employees to be more productive, along with helping co-workers communicate more effectively with each other. We all enjoyed learning more about ourselves and each other, along with laughing at the looks of “that’s you to a tee” when we shared the results with our significant others.
The final activity of the retreat was our Blue Sky Thinking session. With all participants keeping an open mind and a sense of humor, team members brainstorm concepts and ideas that they might like to see instituted at Sullivan Engineering. This allows us to focus on short term goals, as well as consider big picture ideals. The leadership team puts each suggestion up for discussion, at which time we collectively decide which deserve enacting, followup, tabling, nixing, etc.
While fairly exhausted by the end of the annual retreat, team members have a clear picture of the firm’s current status, as well as where the company is headed. We find that this annual interruption of our daily routines has powerful and long lasting effects. Our retreat reiterates that we are part of a group with a “team first” attitude that shares a “strong work ethic” and strives to “empower people” around us. It reminds us that everything we do must be grounded in the principles of “honesty and integrity.” Lastly, it allows us to be “forward thinking” while remaining “humbly confident”. We know that if we follow our six core values together as a team, we will always respect, appreciate and work more seamlessly with each other.