3 Ways We Keep Our Team Learning & Engaged

Category: Our Thoughts

For those of you that know me, you know that I come from a Human Resources background, and that, in addition to My Loud Speaker, I’m also the Co-Founder of an HR-centric non-profit, XYBOOM Intergenerational Organization. The organization runs an annual conference around the topic of intergenerational relationships in the workplace. It sounds almost irrelevant to my work at MLS, but how I ultimately landed in the marketing industry was really unexpected and complicated – it took a few random twists of fate which, from what I hear, is very common for careers nowadays. So, even though I really love what I do in marketing, it’s understandable that a lot of what I really do at MLS is centered around running a small team of passionate and talented young people. And, in doing so, I’ve learned a few ways to keep them learning and engaged, and for those of you who manage teams, you know this can sometimes be a difficult feat. I’ve highlighted three of our most common practices:

Every month, I meet with each individual on my team for a “One On One” session (OOO). These are not performance reviews or personal development sessions, these are merely sessions to keep in touch with my team and to ensure they have the time to tell me how they’re doing – in a safe and private space. It starts off with “So how was your last month?” and ends with “Was there anything you wanted to share with me?”. Everything in between changes from session to session. It’s geared to be a safe haven for them to discuss their concerns, thoughts and feelings about what’s been going on within our company and beyond. I found that these meetings, although seemingly impractical, have led to direct bottom-line benefits for our company. It has opened lines of communication that were previously closed due to predictable reasons: shyness, deadlines, etcetera, and has contributed to stronger intra-office relationships, and a better understanding of the needs and motivating factors of my staff. In turn, they’re more productive because they’re happy to know that they’re understood. These sessions are always the best part of my day, and only recently have I been requesting them for myself – essentially switching roles with my staff. In the near future, we’ll be doing test runs in which team members will facilitate OOO sessions with other team members.

Every two weeks, a team member is assigned to do a 15-minute presentation to the team on any topic that they desire. It can be on marketing, technology, leadership, new trends, work environments, or even health, as long as it ties back to the office in some shape or form. Through this process, we’ve not only been able to help our team become better presenters and communicators, but we’ve also discovered passions and practical skill sets in each person that has transformed certain roles and responsibilities for the team. At the end of each presentation, the rest of the team provides ratings and in-depth feedback on the presentation. The feedback works two-fold by benefitting both the presenter and the rest of the team. For the presenter, they not only learn how to present to a crowd, but they also experience first-hand the sheer amount of preparation that’s involved in a good presentation. They also learn about their presentation’s strengths and weaknesses in an open dialogue with the rest of the team. Lastly, they learn to accept feedback graciously with an understanding that there’s always room for improvement. As for the rest of the team, they, of course, learn about a new topic in the presentation. They also learn how to share their opinions effectively by being constructive without being offensive, and detailed without being long-winded.

Occasionally, our team participates in an in-depth personal development workshop where everyone in the office, including the company we share our office with, gets together and participates. In our last workshop together, we spent time analyzing each of our individual strengths and teaming up with others to work on developing them for the long-term. Through this workshop, individuals were able to not only hone their strengths and use them to their advantage, but also learn about how others perceive their capabilities in the workplace.

As you can see, a big part of my role in the company may be considered an “HR department” in many companies, but I feel there’s much more to it than that. The mentality it breeds spans across every portion of the organization and has a heavy effect on the way we do things here. Yes, every organization deals with recruitment, retainment, and knowledge transfer, but not many spend the time we do on this aspect. What we may do may be considered “overkill” for many organizations, but personally, I find it shocking that many organizations have yet to shift their focus onto these aspects – unaware of how much it truly affects their bottom line. This is a major reason why I am running the XYBOOM Conference this year, which will discuss and help eradicate intergenerational issues in the workplace – one of the major intra-office issues of late. As the workforce evolves, and the economic climate along with our lifestyles change, businesses will inevitably need to prepare themselves for what that means to them.

Before I go, I want to be clear that the practices we implement at MLS won’t work for everyone the same way it has for us. We’ve found that our heavy investment in our team has substantially helped our company as a whole. By creating a culture where everyone continues to gain personally, we’ve created – simply put – a “happy” team. And, a happy team makes for a better work environment, which, in turn, has led to better work.

Originally posted on VanCityBuzz.

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Tammy Tsang

Tammy Tsang is the Founder of My Loud Speaker Marketing, which has been providing successful campaigns to major clients for over six years. Her company has attained glowing recommendations from prestigious organizations such as the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, University of British Columbia, BC Cancer Agency, and more. She is also the founder of XYBOOM Intergenerational Organization, which runs an annual conference on topics surrounding intergenerational relationships in the workplace.

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