When Saybr Contractors, Inc. came to Axiom, they had been instituting a new structure within the company that involved their executive team and upper level management making changes to the way they had operated in the past. They planned a company retreat on Vashon: a full day seminar at Axiom Equine (The Art of Whole Communication) followed by a night at The Lodges on Vashon, with their annual strategy meeting at The Lodges meeting facility the following day. Their ultimate goal was to provide a safe environment wherein every individual attending the strategy meeting could express their honest and open feedback.
Within the new system, there were individuals who were new upper level managers. The executive team wanted these new managers to feel empowered and confident in making decisions. In order to do this on any team, there must be trust - trust within the upper level management as well as with the executive team. To provide their company with the greatest opportunity for success, they sought to understand what leadership truly means to each individual as well as the collective. They had a few main goals:
(1) Build a strong, cohesive team within each new division.
(2) Nurture leadership qualities to empower upper management to lead their team.
(3) Encourage appreciation of differences among team members to increase cohesion and productivity.
Saybr understood that ineffective communication is at the heart of most issues. So what does that mean? It means that in order to maintain unity as a company, they must begin listening completely and effectively to each other and understand there isn’t just one way to do things. In order to discover what was working and what wasn’t working, the executive team at Saybr knew they must step outside of its comfort zone.
After the Axiom seminar, the definition of teamwork and leadership had transformed. Each individual’s new-found sense of self-awareness shed light on the humanity of others they worked with. The people who were just co-workers the day before were appreciated with a new sense of compassion; they could better see each other’s vulnerability as well as depth and strength. Throughout the workshop they found themselves depending on one another and building trust.
At the end of the day, the most resounding sentiment expressed by the folks at Saybr was “I love working for this company!” Saybr was engaged and ready to tackle the difficult topics of their strategic meeting. With greater self-awareness and trust the team could execute effective communication to accomplish exactly what they set out to do. The clear communication allowed each person to feel empowered in themselves and by their company. Ideas and concerns were conveyed, addressed and change was implemented. With everyone on the same page the outcome of the meeting set a solid foundation for success the upcoming year.
When they returned to the office, the lessons from the seminar continued. Facing the everyday tasks with this transformed perspective allowed communication to improve across the board. Managers who had communication issues with internal departments found themselves using the skills they learned at Axiom. The skills trickled down to those who had not attended, and the sense of teamwork that was felt at Axiom reached the entire organization.