Team building in a small company | FirstRain

Team building in a small company

We just passed through our half year point at FirstRain and I brought the whole US company together here in San Mateo this week. My purpose was two fold – first for training on the new research engine, how to sell it, where to sell it, and what’s coming next – and second team building across the company and some celebration for the success we are already seeing with the new research engine – just a few weeks into it’s beta.

The second purpose was by far the most interesting and fun. I wanted to team build both at a professional level by working problems together and also at a personal level to develop stronger relationships between people who work in different offices and across different time zones. So Sunday was family bonding, Monday was training and planning, Tuesday was everyone team building.

Here’s an overview of the agenda – it really worked well.

Sunday afternoon – Bar-be-que at my house for all employees with families and swim gear. Food, wine, beer, music, swimming, teenage life guard, dogs overeating – everyone had fun.

Monday all day – Sales training
Each rep – present on 1H results, Q3 pipeline, key learnings, top 3 accounts
Marketing – training on market segments and how to work our value in each segment
R&D – next 90 days of product enhancements
Discussion – deep dive on a key capability sales needs and R&D is developing – ensure they are on the same page

Monday afternoon – Ops planning (separate from sales)
Ops team (R&D and analytics) working through near term and long term product and IP plans

Tuesday morning – Everyone together
1H review – financial results, major milestone – releasing the research engine
Problem solving #1 – teams of 2 – each speak uninterrupted to the other for 3 minutes about what is challenging right now
Problem solving #2 – group into teams of 6 – share what each heard – pull out the top 3-4 challenges we face right now
Problem solving #3 – new teams of 6 – chose 2 challenges to solve – bring back the solution
Long term technology and product vision – passionate and interactive discussion about where FirstRain is headed

Tuesday afternoon – Treasure Hunt in San Francisco
Tuesday evening – Dinner at Fior d’Italia – and awards

The whole session was great fun but the best part was the problem solving exercises. Everyone threw themselves passionately in and not only was it important to hear the challenges people are facing but it was also terrific to hear the ideas and solutions the teams came up with for some of our more pervasive challenges.

And the treasure hunt in San Francisco was absolutely fantastic. We broke up into 5 teams – each team was given a set of clues to solve and a map of the area – we did the hunt in North Beach. It was run by Mr Treasure Hunt and it was much, much better than any of us had imagined it would be. The clues were mentally challenging and winning took strategy and the willingness to hoof it fast around the city. Now maybe I enjoyed it so much not only because of the team building but also because my team won and brought all the right answers back 30 mins ahead of the nearest team – but I did have some big brains on my team (not including me)!

Finally dinner at Fior – the oldest Italian restaurant in the US (hard to believe it is in San Francisco and not New York or Boston but it is). We had created awards and plaques for all everyone who had worked so hard to bring the research engine out in June and made it such a hot product for us. Great fun, and much wine, for all.