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Our Quest to Improve Collaboration

Aug 23, 2023

Early this month, our whole staff participated in our annual team development day, “Dev Day” as we like to call it. It’s important that we take time to work on ourselves as a team—away from the hustle of our daily client work. Taking the time to work on ourselves will ultimately result in more efficient productivity, creative problem solving, and increased results for our clients, making our marketing agency stronger. 

This year’s goal is to become better collaborators—a major skill needed in any marketing agency business. We are constantly working closely with others—consulting with fellow team members, ideating with clients, hosting agency brainstorms, working jointly with our vendors—all in the best interest of our clients. So, in order to improve our collaborative ability, we spent Dev Day refining our communication skills, building trust with one another, and we took a lesson in creative problem solving.  

Our team development day had three distinct segments: 

  • The morning was spent working on collaboration through communication and trust, professionally facilitated by one of the best leaders that I know, Marty Petty of The MPetty Group.   
  • Lunchtime allowed us to revisit our EOS V/TO, along with sharing our finalized marketing strategy and tactical plan with our whole team. 
  • Our afternoon was centered around changing our perspectives, understanding the creative process, and creative problem solving. 

Building Communication and Trust 

First, I owe a huge thank you to Marty! She is our business coach, my mentor, and an amazing facilitator of professional team development. Marty is a valuable resource in our hiring, developing, and retaining process, so of course she was our go-to partner to help me develop the content for this day.  

When we talk about communication and trust, it’s true that these two skills can exist without collaboration. However, we also know that collaboration can only exist with them. So we talked openly about each others’ “Hot Buttons,” we explored the realism-idealism spectrum, and we reviewed our individual and team strengths from our most recent Hartman Value Profiles. 

From our assessment scores, Marty told us that our collective scores surpassed their benchmarks for a successful team in terms of strength of judgment. We even beat the Yale Institute for Leadership Excellence—big team high-five! And, our engagement scores indicate we collectively find our work a calling. This is unique for a marketing agency as it’s typically seen in nonprofits, medicine, and faith-based organizations. This was a really exciting discovery for me because we have done a tremendous amount of work to assemble our current team. To have confirmation that I am surrounded by professionals who also love what they do and find the work we do for our clients meaningful, well, “This is huge!”, my friend Marty would tell us. She summed our assessments up by telling us that we have the capability and capacity to operate as a great team. Now it’s up to us to get it done! 

We then turned our attention to learning about trust and its importance in collaborating as a team. Marty introduced us to Brene Brown and her seven pillars in the anatomy of trust: BRAVING. I encourage everyone to watch this for both professional and personal betterment. 

View the abridged version of Brene Brown’s talk here.

Marty put us to the ultimate test of collaboration, communication, and trust…The Minefield! It involved teams, blindfolds, a field full of obstacles, a few unexpected detours, and some nerves. Whether we were the guide or the guided, it taught us to develop a strategy, communicate what needs to be done, pivot when necessary, and trust each other to lead one another to success. No mines were detonated (a.k.a. no rum bottles were tipped over!). 

Team Development: Some Much-Needed We Time

At lunch, we spent time getting to know each other better. Although we sit in the same office, it’s important to know someone beyond their resume. Who knew that we had a potential marine biologist, ballerina, and professional athlete among us? We shared our greatest fears and favorite meals. And we discovered half of us view our parents as our greatest heroes. Although there was healthy dialogue about Will Ferrell filling that role for one of us! 

Part of our EOS work includes continuous review of our Vision/Traction Organizer (V/TO), which outlines the vision for the future. We quizzed the team, reinforcing we are all heading in the same direction. Each of us shared our own core values, an exercise prepared in advance, and compared them to our company’s core values: learning, strength & boldness, results, collaboration, and enjoyment. When employee’s core values are aligned with those of the company, they have stronger engagement and longer-term retention, leading to better company performance overall (EOS). 

We also took the time to focus on our own marketing, taking advantage of having the whole team focused on our own business for the day. Like our V/TO, it’s imperative that as a marketing agency, our whole team understands our own marketing strategy, their role in implementing each tactic for us and our clients, and what the desired results should be. 

Perspective and Possibility

Our afternoon was spent on a private tour of The Dalí Museum guided by Dr. Kim Macuare,  Innovation Lab’s Co-Director. We learned about perspective, how to compare ourselves to our own competition Dalí-style, and how to think outside the box for creative problem solving. We left with new ideas to incorporate into client Deep Dive meetings and much more. If you are planning a professional team development day, I strongly encourage you to investigate the Innovation Lab. Kim provided us with an amazing interactive session, which culminated with a lovely glass of Cava—cheers to a successful Dev Day! 

Key Takeaways from our Team’s Professional Development Day

  1. If only we had more time! The day was fast-paced with new concepts and strategies just being introduced. Our next step is constant follow up together to continue to work on our communication, trust, and ultimately our collaboration skills. We’ll continue to work on BRAVING together as a team and as individuals. For me personally, I have some work to do on being non-judgmental, especially as it relates to asking for help. 
  2. One of the many reasons why we adopted the EOS model is to have the company vision clearly communicated to our whole team and to more efficiently work through problem solving the business challenges we face. The EOS V/TO provides a simple framework, which allows us to articulate this, as well as measure our progress. It also allows everyone to share in the success by sharing the accountability with our team. 
  3. There’s something really special about having a team of like-minded people to work with. Knowing that my co-workers also have a calling to this business assures me that the work we do for our clients will continue to be stellar. 

A final thank you to our client and friends at St. Petersburg Innovation District for allowing us to use the conference room at The Hub—such a beautiful spot overlooking the harbor at the Port of St. Petersburg.