In the Trenches: Setting the Agenda

In May, I started talking about getting Cranky Concierge’s staff together for an annual meeting, and this week we’re doing just that. Although not everyone in the organization could make it, most of us have descended upon Long Beach, Calif., to talk about the business. The hardest part for me has been setting the agenda.

Bringing people here took considerable effort and resources, but that was easy compared with figuring out how to spend our time together. These face-to-face meetings are rare, so I wanted to make sure to not waste a moment. There’s only one problem: We can’t close up shop in order to meet; we have to keep our operations running.

Knowing that we had two days together, I decided to set things up this way: The first day would be all about current processes. What works? What doesn’t? What could we do better? How could we be more efficient? We’d essentially go over everything we do and then make suggestions on how to make changes. That isn’t a full day’s agenda, of course. But because Mondays are always busy for us, we would undoubtedly only be able to spend a few hours actually meeting.  Maybe it would make sense to not do this on Monday/Tuesday, but with everyone’s busy schedules, this was the only time that worked.

For the second day, we would focus on the future. How could we grow our current business? What additional opportunities might enable us to expand? What resources do we need to get ourselves where we want to be? I expected the second day to involve a lot more brainstorming, which should be something that works best when we’re all in the same place.

Of course, a big part of being together as a staff is the extracurricular time: It’s not often that we get to share a meal and just shoot the breeze. I think that’s really important, because it allows us to develop bonds and improve working relationships.  Those are hard to develop from afar. So, on the final night, we’ll all go up to the Proud Bird near LAX to watch airplanes while eating and drinking.

It’s going to be a busy couple of days, but hopefully it’s time well-spent.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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2 comments
Jim Friedman
Jim Friedman

Far too many businesses discount the value of human capital.  The amount of money saved by reducing turnover is enormous, and so much of that is just, as you say, "sharing a meal and just shooting the breeze".

Cedarglen
Cedarglen

Great post, Bret.  I can imagine some of the difficulties of managing a small, but far-flung group such as yours.  I think you agenda was perfectly appropriate.  While brainstorming ideas for the future is essential, with your almost unique business model, social integration time is time well spent.  As the leader, it is essential that you get to know your staff much better than  an email presence or telephone voice.  I can imagine that the logistics were difficult and expensive, but you've likely already discovered the unmeasurable value.  Best wishes.  

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