We keep our dogs in our living room when we are away. Over the years, we have come home to some pretty unique situations. I recall, several years ago, coming home to an entire living room full of papers and assorted trash. Someone had left a school backpack and a box of cheerios within reach. Because our dogs have the invisible fence system, we have been known to leave the door to the back yard open on summer days. I came home one afternoon to an extra dog. No idea who he belonged to, but he was hanging out in the living room having a grand old time.
I have often wondered what we would see if we set up a video camera to record the shenanigans that happen once we drive out of the driveway. Do they climb onto the back of the couch or chase each other around the room? Do they sleep all afternoon or play the piano? I have some pretty crazy ideas about what life in the unattended living room is like, but I would bet it's actually quite boring. Nevertheless, my imagination can run away with me.
So what do your employees really do when you are not looking? Over the past few weeks, we at the Chamber have been working on a presentation that we gave to our board of directors at the annual retreat on Thursday. This presentation involved roughly 75 Power Point slides and 5 different presenters over roughly an hour's time. Getting the presentation right consumed us: We made edit after edit. We ran through it multiple times and we had long arguments with the software when it didn't do what we wanted.
So why did we go to all this trouble? Because, as usual, the process itself was extremely informative. The board got real insight into all of the programs we run and an in-depth review of the financials. More importantly, the board got to see the staff present in a professional manner. While everyone knows that the Chamber staff members are very efficient and professional, the board does not always get to see it firsthand. In addition, the board got to ask specific questions of the staff which is also a unique opportunity.
As we went through the preparation however, I discovered something more important. We learned about ourselves. Our financial analysis revealed that we had done some things VERY well this year. Additionally, each staff member got to get an insight into the other aspects of the Chamber that are traditionally not a group discussion. Cynthia learned about the financial side, Patty got to know the marketing world relatively well, and Debbie learned how much I love Power Point.
All in all, this process was a great opportunity for us to share with the board, and each other, what we had accomplished during the year. It gave all of us a new found appreciation for what we do and how well it's working. It also prompted us to consider what we could add next year and what our staff goals might be.
In closing, take some time to find out what your staff is doing while you are away. Ask for a formal presentation. Specify what you wish to hear about, but leave the format up to them. This process will not only provide you with some great insight but also provide your team with a great exercise to redefine what they are all about. You might just find out who ate your shoes.