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See How A Day of Surprises Propelled One Practice into 2020 with Excitement

  • By ironstonehq
  • |
  • January 30, 2020

At Ironstone, we have always championed the idea of each financial advisory practice having ongoing Development Days; a day to turn off the phones, put on the out-of-office email notices and let clients know you’re focusing internally as a team.

Well, Gentian Financial, an advisory practice just outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, planned a very special Development Day in December that would definitely become a day to remember.

The team gathered at the office on the morning of their Development Day, but rather than having their typical internal pow-wow, owner Chris Doughty had something significantly different in store.

Let’s Get Rolling…

After the team was assembled, a mini-bus arrived and he invited them all aboard to begin sipping tasty mimosas as their mystery adventure began.

During their trip to a destination unknown, Chris shared the first of several surprises that would be revealed throughout the day. Although they usually keep the office open right up to the last minute before any given holiday and reopen the office right afterwards, he was excited to announce that the office would be closed on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas.

The team was very excited to learn of this extra time off to enjoy the holiday with their families.

A Fitting Celebration for Christmas…

The mini-bus pulled up to their first stop, the Mayfair Mall. Curious about arriving at this shopping spot, the team entered the mall where jolly ol’ St. Nick was ready for an impromptu photo!

After their brief visit to Santa, the staff’s next Christmas surprise was just a few steps away, at the Nordstrom department store. They were greeted like royalty by the Nordstrom team and taken to an area with a beautiful breakfast spread to enjoy. Chairs were arranged in a classroom-like setting, complete with goodie bags filled with pens, journals, makeup and more.

The team received top tips on the very latest trends in professional wear, both for inside and outside the office.

Then, in a move that had jaws hitting the floor, Chris announced each employee would receive a very nice budget to spend on clothes and accessories for themselves that morning! Over the next two hours, stylists brought jewelry, pants, suits, belts, accessories and more to each team member. The men and women were in two different areas of the store, and each group was abuzz with excitement and bonded as they helped each other pick their favorite pieces.

An event like this also evens the playing field for acquiring ideal office attire for meeting with wealth management clients, considering the wide variety of incomes depending on roles within the firm. A significant boost to one’s wardrobe is a surefire way to help everyone look and feel their absolute best.

What better example to reinforce excellent client service than the amazing treatment at Nordstrom? This “red carpet” experience was one that the team would never forget, and serves as inspiration for the level of service they hope to deliver to clients of the firm.

The Gift of Togetherness

After the festive fashion shopping spree, Chris then welcomed the team to his home for a late lunch catered with tasty sandwiches, salads and, of course, a few decadent desserts.

As they sat around the table breaking bread together, they engaged in a ritual customary to their firm by sharing individual gratitude statements. This is an opportunity to showcase appreciation for each other and anything in their life for which they are feeling particularly grateful.

Afterwards, it was time for “Secret Santa” where team members shared thoughtful gifts for those whose name they had drawn. The team always puts much thought into their gifts, like a guitar strap for a budding musician with her home country emblazoned on it, or a handmade blanket made in the college colors of the recipient.

As the day concluded, Chris handed out envelopes which contained each employee’s bonus, and once again communicated his thanks and appreciation for how hard the team works and how proud he is of their accomplishments.

The Value of Celebrating Successes

Chris, the owner of Gentian Financial, is described by team members as “visionary” and always forward-looking. This mindset is partly why he hired Ironstone as a coach; knowing he has a solid idea of where he wants his firm to go and that our guidance can help them get there.

But for this special Development Day, he purposely kept his thoughts and attention squarely in the moment and was truly present with his team. This “day of surprises” was a bonding opportunity that has taken a close-knit team and brought them even closer together.

By recognizing and celebrating where they are as a firm and the hard work it took as a team to get there, simply reflecting on this as a group further positions them to achieve even greater things in the coming year and beyond.

While some owners may not be in a situation to celebrate successes in this way, this example should serve as inspiration for ways to get creative in surprising and delighting your team. Show them your heartfelt appreciation, and they might just surprise you with what they can accomplish.

Key Tips for Implementing Your Own Development Day:

• Schedule quarterly at a minimum – ideally monthly
• Put it on the calendar for all of 2020
• 2nd week of the month is ideal to avoid beginning / end of month disruptions
• ½ to Full day for internal focus with your team
• In addition to making it productive, also make it fun.

What’s stopping you from schedule your Development Day with your team? Want a guide to help you conduct your 1st Development Day and set the stage for the following ones? We are always here to help.

Let’s connect on a call today.

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Author Bio

Ironstone is a learning and development consultancy with business acumen that translates across many industries. Our focus is on practice management strategies in order to enhance and improve both business and personal life. We support professionals who want major and comprehensive improvements that look at all aspects not just an isolated area for change. Ironstone has identified 4 key performance areas known as the Fundamental 4™, which are required to design, develop, and sustain a successful business.