I have been meeting with my team recently to better understand what they like, don’t like, what they would like to see more of, less of, why they joined the AG team, why they stay, and whatever else I might learn that can help improve the AG employment experience. Each and every person I have met with told me they were attracted to AG for a number of reasons, but the most important one was our training. They wanted to be at a company where they could learn. We are very proud of our internal training program and continue to invest and improve it. The conversations I am having validate that we are on the right track.
This got me thinking. How can we do more? How can we take our learning culture to the next level. We decided to make a significant investment in an outside firm to work with us. They would bring many, many years of experience as well as an objective point of view.
About six months ago we engaged with an outside firm to help us further train our team. Our focus is on three specific areas. Sales training for our Business Development Reps, Leadership training for our executive team, and Process Improvement training across the entire organization.
I was excited for the team, I understood the message that learning was important to them and I was delivering more of a good thing. I expected and received all of the positive things that would come from training. Skills development, higher productivity and improved job satisfaction. What I did not expect was the team building aspect of the training process. I always thought of team building in the more traditional sense. A two or three day retreat, a ropes course, even a scavenger hunt. I’m sure there are a hundred more.
What I have noticed halfway through, what will end up being a yearlong training is that the team is becoming stronger in ways I would not have expected. I expected an improvement as a result of the learning and improved skills, it was the improved relationships, processes, and the special bonds that have been created through spending time learning together that surprised me a bit.
I have seen new relationships develop as team members that might not have spent time together otherwise have an opportunity to interact. I have seen managers develop closer relationships with their team by participating in the training along with their team as opposed to facilitating the training. We now have improved processes around team management and scheduling as we have had to schedule more than 70 people into various training schedules without losing productivity.
We are getting better as a result of working through the process of getting better. Very cool stuff! Please share any team building activities that you and your company have participated in, we'd love to hear of them!