An Exercise in Inspiration and Motivation

A couple of weeks ago, some colleagues and I headed up to Northern Arizona for an optional offsite activity. Our CFO has a cabin (honestly, big house) up there and he has made it a practice to invite his direct reports up every year. This year, he expanded the invitation list to all of the Senior Managers and Directors of the company. (No, his cabin isn't that big. We were spread out over several places for our lodgings.)

We headed up to the pines on a Wednesday afternoon. The first night was dinner then hanging out. Thursday morning was golf for those who wanted to play while the rest of us sat on the porch and worked. It was gorgeous!

This is when I love technology - a wifi connection and I can work anywhere.
We headed to the main lodge for lunch after the golfers returned then delved into our first "work" activity of the trip. It was a "dusting off of our 360s".

Back in 2010 and then 2011, our upper management group participated in Zenger|Folkman 360 Assessments. Recently, a new group of managers and emerging leaders as well as Directors that weren't at the company back in 2011 did another round. We've invested time, energy and money into the process and I think it's a solid one.

The idea is to focus on one or two things that you're really good at and improve until you're excellent. You ignore the things that you're average at because the theory is you get the biggest bang for the buck when you can move something from good to great. (Sounds like a best selling book title, maybe I'll use that...oh, never mind, taken.) The exception to this process is if you have a "fatal flaw". Something that you're so bad at that it can derail your performance and possibly your career. If you have one of those, that's where you put your focus.

So, back to our exercise. The CFO started off by saying he had chosen to work on Inspiring and Motivating and this event was his attempt to improve on that. We then went in random order and talked about what we had chosen to work on and whether we'd made any effort or progress. After a person was done speaking, it was opened up to comments and questions from the rest. There were some good suggestions and some sincere affirmations. That was nice.

I had chosen Technical and Professional Expertise (as did many of us). Looking back, I have picked up some skills there when it comes to integrations. But, I spent more time on actively Building Relationships. Since that time, we started our Ladies of the Round Table (SM and Directors) group and our Random Happy Hours made up from all employees, I've added to my scheduled lunch companion rotation and spent a lot of time overseas with varied colleagues where you either go to your hotel room after work or you hang out. I always choose hang out unless I'm broken.

What was also nice was the last part of the individual presentation. The person had to sit with their back to a whiteboard and everyone wrote something about them. It was erased before the could see it but a picture was taken before erasure. It was interesting to see how uncomfortable some people were and how tempted they were to turn around and look.

Here's what they wrote about me.
(My friend Tina wrote the Hot!! comment. She's so funny.)
Yeah, the Princess thing is known at work. Also, that I don't want to be known as the Queen because Queen's are older than Princesses. My buddy, Jimmy, wrote Queen and was quite pleased with himself.

It was a very cool exercise that could be used in classrooms or scout troops or any place where you would do team building.

We followed up with dinner then a trip to Dairy Queen then pretty much everyone was tuckered out. Friday morning, we met for breakfast, discussed a few topics then headed back to the Valley.

I've been following up with my colleagues as I get a chance. Universally, we agreed it was a good meeting and time well spent. And, interestingly enough, we felt that the size was just right even though only half of the invitee list attended. I thought it made for more in depth conversation than what would have happened with twice as many.

I'll give the CFO an A on his Inspiring and Motivating work on this one. I came back feeling closer to my colleagues and more enthused about the work we have to do. And, I'll never begrudge any time spent in getting to know people on a more personal basis.


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