Every fall, our agents from around the country gather in Vermont for several days of masterminding, learning and goal setting at our annual company Advance. Yes, we call it an Advance — because we do not retreat. Needless to say, our 225-plus agents will not be traveling to our beautiful state this year, but our Advance will live on. It might look a bit different than in years past, but we are nothing if not adaptable.
If you don’t hold an annual company gathering, I highly recommend you start this year. It’s a great way to celebrate successes from the prior months, while bringing inspiration and tactical knowledge to your team.
Advances get your team members focused and fired up to push hard through the end of the year, while setting them up for success in the year ahead. It’s also an opportunity to reinforce the vision and the culture of your organization.
Here are five key components you should include in your company’s gathering (whatever you choose to call it). Yes, even if you’re going virtual!
1. Cast the vision
Can leaders ever really do this enough? Nope! Part of a great gathering is rallying the team around the mission of the organization and giving them a glimpse into what’s ahead (whether that is the following year or 10 years into the future).
High achievers want to know where they are going and how they can continue to grow within your world. Show them the opportunities and the path to get there. We have these conversations weekly, so they are a smaller part of our event.
However, if you haven’t cast the vision of your organization in a while, make sure you set aside a significant amount of time to show where the company is going and, more importantly, how each team member can achieve success by continuing to partner with you. The inspiration behind the vision isn’t enough. You must also inspire action.
2. Create connection, and reinforce the culture
This is probably the hardest part to replicate virtually. The first part is accepting that you can’t completely replicate the feeling you get being in a room of hundreds of like-minded individuals. But you can create a new engaging experience to help your team feel connected and loved.
This year, we are having each local team get together (adhering to COVID safety guidelines) to watch the presentations and guest speakers virtually. Meals and breaks will be together and the CEO and operations coordinator of each team are tasked with keeping the energy high and masterminding going. The best part of most events is those side conversations!
We are having lunch brought into to each location around the country and encouraging team breakfasts or team happy hours depending on which side of the country our agents are on.
We also include a series of awards each year to recognize the hard work and contribution of our team members, including “Cultural Icon,” “Best Social Media Personality” and “Employee of the Year.”
3. Be purposeful with personal growth
Our company is founded on the belief that business is nothing but a conduit for personal growth. But even if your company isn’t as personal growth-focused as we are, I encourage you to incorporate some personal growth activities into your event.
In years past, we’ve had guided meditation, guest speakers about persevering through adversity, and morning walks or runs. This year, we are focusing on personal finances, the mindset around money and building wealth to fund your ideal life.
We agree with Daniel Elk’s (founder and CEO of Spotify) philosophy, “There is never enough time — for work, for family and friends — and it takes work to make the best use of it. It’s all about fostering a holistic perspective in life.” Which is exactly why we make personal growth a focus of our Advance and our company. It’s about work-life integration.
4. Incorporate tactical training
Although personal growth and a holistic perspective definitely give you a competitive advantage in business, so does having the tactical skills to do your job and do it well.
Whether it’s a script-off, lead generation strategies or market knowledge, make sure your event includes some tactical takeaways that your team members can implement immediately in their businesses. This year, we are diving deep into social media training with presentations on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.
5. Set aside time for business planning and goal setting
Your team is going to be fired up during and after your event. While you are casting the vision, there will naturally be some specific company goals outlined, whether that’s the number of transactions you’re targeting for the year ahead, a new division being rolled out or a new website launch. That’s a great place to start.
Once that big vision is set, your individual team members will need time to determine their specific goals for the following year.
- What are their income goals?
- How many clients do they want to serve?
- What new projects or responsibilities do they want to take on?
- What do they need to learn, or how do they need to level up their leadership to hit their objectives?
These are great conversations to have as a team — either before Advance kicks off or at the end of the day. The key here will be getting the conversations going and then following up with individual agents to ensure they have a written plan within the week. After all, you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.
Now is the time to pivot and persevere. Don’t take the easy way out and cancel your company gathering. Get creative! Cast the vision, cultivate connection and conversations within your virtual platform and offline, include personal growth and tactical training, and gear up for the year ahead with specific goals. How are you pivoting this year and keeping your company inspired for the year ahead?
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies