First time ever I saw your face: notes from our first ‘real life’ team meeting

We held our first face to face meeting since substantially growing our training team. We normally meet once a month virtually, but we thought we’d take advantage of eased restrictions and a beautiful venue in the heart of the city to munch on bacon rolls and for some of us, to meet each other in the flesh for the very first time.

As a digital company we are well versed in online communication. We were very prepared for the pandemic and leapt into converting any face-to-face bookings to online through our platform – using tools like discussion boards and virtual training rooms. Like the rest of the world, we were forced to work this way for our clients and also for our own internal management and meetings. During the pandemic our quick pivot to online meant demand for our services and subjects grew, and so did our team.

As a people focused business, it’s important to connect with each other and share our ideas, experiences, and expertise – something we’ve encouraged from Day 1. Our ethos is a collective approach to development and decision making. Building community within and outwith our organisation makes us stronger. A face-to-face meeting was a great opportunity for us all to come together, connect, take time out from our day-to-day training setting, and really explore who we are, what we bring and where we’re going.

Here are my personal thoughts from the day

  1. Personality can be hard to translate online

I can be guilty of coming across as formal in email so meeting in person is a great way to show people there’s a real person at the other end of the message. Although a virtual meeting can do this just as well it was great to be relaxed in each other’s company and highlight my own human qualities – like spilling ketchup down my front as I greedily got stuck into breakfast!

  1. An ‘agenda-less’ meeting can often achieve more

We did have a loose format for the day beginning with a corporate presentation, informal intros, mini Train the Trainer session and a Word Cloud activity. However, not having a list or taking minutes meant real freedom in our conversations and I learned a lot from listening to topics I probably wouldn’t have considered to even put on an agenda. As so many of us agreed, sometimes having regular meetings with agendas and action points stifles creativity and you can end filling up the time slot for the sake of it.

  1. We’re incredibly lucky to have the collective skills and experience that we do

As research shows, the training industry is growing and fragmented. There are many “cowboy” outfits springing up and undercutting quality trainers. From listening to everyone’s experiences and qualifications I was astounded at the wealth of expertise we held in the room. Sometimes during the interview process you can focus on fit for the job in hand and skim over other skills. It was apparent after listening to everyone’s background that we are prime to grow our catalogue even further with our collective knowledge. Giving people time and space to chat through their past and their passions is easier in an informal face-to-face setting.

  1. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere and also from anyone

As we tell our clients, online learning is real anytime, anywhere learning – you just need a device and the internet. This was pushed further at our face-to-face meeting where we discussed how we’re all learners in any setting. We all learn from each other as trainers and from those we teach. Learning doesn’t begin or end in a session, whether its physical or virtual. Our meeting was full of positivity about lifelong learning, so we’ve decided to launch an accredited Train the Trainer programme that we’ll all contribute to and learn from. If we’re open to new concepts and on the lookout for inspiring ideas, our thirst for knowledge keeps us learning 24/7.

  1. Even online learning Ambassadors like me want to meet in real life after a pandemic

As a long-standing believer in online learning, I already promote the benefits to our team and our clients. The feedback we have received and our new bookings shows that many clients won’t go back to face-to-face when training can be done well online.

For a digital training company that excels in online communication and learning we will gladly go back to our virtual team meetings, however, to have the luxury of choice means we’ll probably opt for a ‘blended approach’ and have face-to-face meetings periodically. Meeting face-to-face gave a novelty edge to our team meeting and a wee day out that even introverts like me badly needed after a year of restrictions. From a business point of view, our face-to-face meeting bonded our new team which will enrich our future. I’m already planning our next one!

Contact us here to discuss any of your training needs, online or face-to-face. We would be delighted to have a chat about how we can help deliver quality training to your teams.

Chris Sheridan 

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