Every year, MES takes a day (or two) away from the office to reflect on all things engagement, both within and outside of our Clarendon Road base. Here, one of our newest members of staff, Elizabeth Hickey, gives her take on strategy day 2017…
10th-11th of August 2017: my first strategy day with MES at Worlingham Hall, Suffolk! Such a beautiful location really amazed me, and set the tone for what I felt was a free, creative, calming and therapeutic atmosphere that was perfect for the targets and agenda of our strategy day.
Over the course of a day and a half, the aim was to reflect on what MES has done to date, discuss how we can improve as a team and, finally, to have some fun as a group and get to know each other a bit better.
Free, creative and calming
Despite taking a wrong turn on our way to Worlingham Hall (!), we arrived safe and sound ready for the day ahead. Everyone’s spirits were up and that positive energy was being projected into a great team feeling that was wonderful to see for me and Micol: the newest members of MES staff. Our independent facilitators for the day, Paul and Alan, commented on the good vibes, cohesion and inclusivity. They then proceeded to take us through a series of activities and exercises designed to help us reflect on MES and us as a team.
One of our first activities involved dividing the group into two (with an equal mix of the newest and oldest members of staff) in order to chronologically pin point the ‘highlights’ or ‘lowlights’ since the company started in 2006. I couldn’t contribute to this very much as I have only been here for a month, but what I found interesting was that the results from both groups were closely matched, implying that everyone understood and was in agreement with what MES has achieved so far. Furthermore, what really stood out was, despite the mentioning of a few lows, the highs outweighed them. And it was clear that everyone in the room felt responsible for, and felt they had contributed to, MES’ successes.
Another task I found very useful was the last one of the day. Not because it was the last one of the day you understand or because I was keen to explore this amazing location! No, it was because I feel I learned a lot from this exercise: one where everyone had no choice but to immerse themselves in. This activity involved something simple: throwing seven balls once around the room in a giant circle. The aim was to do the activity whilst being timed. We were then asked whether we wanted to ‘beat our record’ and, if so, how we planned to do that. We eventually got the complete set around in a healthy time of under 25 seconds. Afterwards, the first thing our facilitators noticed is we’re quite a competitive bunch. But there was much more to take away from this. Usually, our extroverts will be the first to express themselves and their ideas. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but what this exercise showed is that sometimes it is the introverts who have the keys to the ignition, the keys to breaking the record. I think we learned a lot as a group around how we tend to operate as a team…which was good to reflect on. What we were left with was the realisation that, amongst the group, everyone is ready to get stuck in, we are all up for a challenge, and together as a team we are ready to do better than we’ve done before.
Therapy and Team Spirit
Moreover, it was really good to hear different perspectives, especially from people who I have not talked with much since I joined or people who I don’t usually communicate with on a daily basis inside the office (because we work in different teams or rooms). This was nice as I was able to get to know colleagues in a more informal environment, where everyone felt comfortable and relaxed.
Playing tennis, archery and creating our own MES canvas paintings was such a nice way to not only brush up on our skills, but to form bonds between everyone. It also helped to ooze a therapeutic atmosphere that I think was widely felt by the team. Hopefully, we’re able to transfer that back into our usual days back in Hornsey. This inspired me to tap into my creative and fun side more, as well as highlighting the importance of regular communication, and sharing ideas and techniques with the team.
We were asked at the start of the day what we wanted to get out from strategy day. One of our team, Djifa, required amongst other things, ‘bants x 2’. I think we achieved that, sat in the library towards the end of the evening. This was definitely one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip as once again everyone was involved, contributing to the games and the music and, most importantly, having fun. The positive energy hit me like a Mexican wave. As I am writing this I keep pausing with giggles remembering moments that definitely made us all exceed the aim of ‘bants x 2’.
In my eyes, this trip to Suffolk exceeded the expectations and aims of what it set out to do as I feel the team and myself have taken away so much more: things that are going to be beneficial moving forward. We learned more about ourselves, other people, our team as a whole and where we could be going next.
Exciting times ahead
Blog by Elizabeth Hickey