PartnerCentric’s First Virtual Retreat Proves that “Pivot” is the Word of 2021 Too
PartnerCentric’s core purpose is building relationships beyond borders and this has never been more evident. When Covid-19 upended most aspects of everyday life almost a year ago, we were fortunate to have a smooth transition in some ways because we were already a remote organization but still had to pivot when it came to providing the most value to our clients in a very turbulent time.
PartnerCentric hosts employee retreats every 18 months and family retreats to Disney World every three years. It’s a tangible way to break down borders and get everyone together for a few days of bonding, learning and fun. 2021 was supposed to bring another great employee retreat and we had even joked about locations. Montana for wide open spaces, Hawaii for fun in the sun and even Maine for some “lobstahs.” Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans so the team improvised. On January 21st and 22nd, we had our very first virtual retreat and it turned out to be just the thing everyone needed.
You can’t have a retreat without cool company merch. That’s just obvious. A week before the event, everyone received boxes that contained PC mugs, notebooks, cocktail kits (for our virtual happy hour, of course), “unique traits” that every team member filled out for the recipient and a letter from our fearless captain, Stephanie, outlining the agenda. We were also given Grubhub gift cards to purchase breakfast or lunch on that Friday.
What’s a retreat without some Jock Jams music and fun trivia? Boring, that’s what. Fortunately, our team tasked the fine folks at teambuilding.com with MCing our Thursday evening happy hour. We laughed, we had cocktails, we made up funny and sometimes inappropriate team names. It was a great way for newer employees to see everyone face-to-face and discover why it’s so much fun to hang out with the team.
Stephanie kicked off our retreat Friday morning with her fantastic keynote titled “From Tugboat to Submarine: A story about Transformation, a story about PartnerCentric.”
It charted our evolution and growth from a service-oriented business to our forward-thinking Technology Enabled Account Management approach and what it took to get us there. Stephanie also touched on the importance of our PIER core values, which are our “North Star” and why it was so necessary to shift one of them to support our evolution.
Our “Improvement” value has had a true evolution over the years, morphing into “Innovation” as we are zealous about fostering an environment of free thinking, an entrepreneurial spirit, a deep and visceral drive toward sustainable value creation at all levels, across all functions of our organization. It became abundantly clear in 2020 who we are and the way we behave as we go about living that core purpose, is through an embrace of continued innovation and growth. This is the way forward and this is how we create new sustained value for ourselves and our customers.
Immediately following, we had a great and inspiring session by an amazing speaker, Mike Goldman on “Personal Innovation” that got many of us thinking about how we plan to grow, both professionally and personally.
Our breakout sessions were divided into “The business of today” and “The business of tomorrow” and the topics (below) spanned many functions and departments:
- When Content IS your Wishlist. Period
- Where We’re Cyborg and Where We’re Human: Tasks that Need Automating
- The Current State of Control Suite and How to Make the Most of it
- Affiliate Marketing: The Year is 2021 - Trends Brainstorm
- Making Content Even More Profitable in 2021
- Life at PartnerCentric: Continuing to Make This the Best Place to Be In a Transformational Year
It was clearly a very productive day full of insightful conversations that allowed us to interact with team members we might not engage with on a daily basis. Getting so many smart minds together was impactful and, most importantly, action-oriented.
Feedback from team members in the week following this new way of doing a retreat was overwhelmingly positive. Our folks reported feeling inspired and rejuvenated after the chaos of the previous year. While there’s no doubt that one day we will all get together to go horseback riding in Montana or sip tropical drinks in Hawaii, it became clear that it was more about the people than the place and as long as we are all together, the spirit of our retreat perseveres.
How can you keep your team’s spirit alive during the marathon that is this pandemic? What tips and tricks do you have on how to make your virtual brainstorms and team bonding events as uplifting and productive as they can be?