In the dynamic world of nonprofit leadership, few individuals possess the blend of experience, passion, and vision that Brian August, newly appointed as Chief Growth...
If you want to keep going, you need to hit “Pause”
It’s been way too long since we had a Zoom-less Hot Start, and wow! It was great on several levels.
Okay, I’m already getting ahead of myself here, which goes to show you why we need Hot Starts. Like first of all, what is a Hot Start?
For us, this all-hands, two-day event is a kind of working company retreat that spurs growth for us and ultimately, our clients.
In aviation, a hot start means that fuel injected in an engine is ignited before there’s sufficient airflow in the combustion chamber.
If the chamber’s temperature exceeds design limits, bad things like melting and breakage can occur. So our two-day team meeting is really a hot start prevention, but we shorten it for effect!
It’s crucial to see where we are so we know where we’re going.
First, we let our clients know that we’ve hit the CauseMic “Pause” button, enabling us to slow way down from our normal Mach 1 pace.
Thus freed from typical project duties, we finally had the time to analyze recent wins and to dissect opportunities.
We discussed what’s working for us and why, along with how to mitigate foreseen risks before they become issues.
Our team also identified obvious and not-so-obvious challenges to smoother work processes, technology usage, and communications with clients—and ways to overcome them.
While we had breakout workgroups for more detailed conversations, topics arose that deserved still more of a deep dive at a later time. That in itself was a valuable outcome.
Importantly, we covered what CauseMic has to offer its crew.
Working full-time or even part-time, people don’t necessarily take the time to reflect on the benefits of where they work.
So if a company prioritizes people over profits, they should periodically flaunt it! What better time for us to do so than at our Hot Start?
Long before the labor shortages caused by the Pandemic prompted unusually high wages, CauseMic prioritized equitable and comfortable salaries. We want our crew to know they’re valued right off the bat and forward.
CauseMic also prioritizes padding the crew’s retirement accounts.
So, in addition to a guaranteed three percent company contribution (with or without employee matching), we seed 401K plans with profit sharing at periodic intervals.
And how about that healthcare? We provide a 100 percent employer-paid plan that includes dental and vision.
Those are pretty tangible benefits. But to me, no less important is our company-wide culture of inclusiveness.
Our Hot Start is ideal for reinforcing the notion that everyone should be heard and that all views have an equal measure of viability.
To be sure, at some point, management decisions are made that may or may not have a unanimous nod of approval. But the best decisions are made when multiple perspectives are given wings.
Besides, encouraging vocal contributions prompts interest in coworker opinions, which makes for a good team.
And ours truly is a good team, a notion quickly borne out by initial team-building exercises.
We reconnected as people first and coworkers second.
Being asked to announce the high points of your life is a real softball. But what about confiding the worst ones? As noted by someone at the Hot Start, that’s hardly a T-ball setup.
Yet, that’s what we did. And the fact that everyone participated says a lot about how we trust each other, how being judgmental just doesn’t seem to have a place at CauseMic’s table.
On a scale of one to ten, how much do we embrace change? Require details for projects? Ignore gaps in strategic planning?
Add it all up, find the average, and here’s the type of person you are. Then dispute it because you like the adjectives in another category better.
Now throw in karaoke heroism, ping pong battles, and adult libation (not to mention three squares a day, CauseMic-tagged Patagonia backpacks, and CauseMic T-shirts).
The real value of all of this? First, a lot of laughs, company pride, and a shared feeling of us being in this thing together. I was truly humbled by our crew’s vulnerability.
Second, giving us a new spark of enthusiasm, the Hot Start helps us continue to bring our very best to CauseMic’s client needs.
I would think that most organizations could really benefit from such a thing.
CauseMic’s Hot Start is a kind of hybrid company retreat, using white board and round table in lieu of face-your-fears exercises, and comfortable meeting rooms instead of the woods.
But whichever form works best for you I’m sure will have value. Consider these positives associated with retreats of virtually all types:
- De-stressing—Without their typical work pressures, people relax and get to know their peers in new ways. They can open up and interact on a more human level.
- Reconnecting—Working remotely means missing out on things like team lunches, personal chats, and meeting up for happy hour—something that even pre-Pandemic we couldn’t regularly do with everyone, since some are scattered throughout various cities.
An in-person retreat makes a gift of those things and builds pride in the organization that cares enough to make it happen.
- Retention—Building team morale at such a retreat can notably reduce turnover.
Positive coworker relationships and feeling appreciated by the organization are top reasons why people stay on the job.
- Round-tabling —We found the Hot Start to be a great way to collaborate on projects and brainstorm ideas.
Unlike clicking “Raise your hand” or “Zooming” oral comments that may be missed, our in-person sessions enabled spontaneous, nuanced communication (quick quips, chuckles, playful finger-pointing, etc.) without being intrusive.
Like Levi King of Nav.com commented in his 2019 INC article:
The stuff that our family and friends witness in unguarded moments—the stuff that endears us to them—retracts like a frightened turtle the second we're with colleagues.
Company retreats lure this stuff out of hiding. People are humanized, which increases the chance of productive, respectful bonds in the future.
You said it, Levi.
Certainly, a lot of logistics goes into organizing a Hot Start, especially when some of your crew isn’t local.
For example, procuring event location, travel, lodging, transportation, meals, drinks, gifts, and off-hours socializing venues are but one aspect.
Creating an agenda and relevant content by facilitators is another. And managing the follow-up for retreat-inspired action items is yet another.
But when it was all said and done, it was worth it!
The Hot Start revved us up, reinforcing what a superb tiger team of tech, creative, and change management skills we have for helping our clients.
Plus it was FUN!
I’ve shared a little about CauseMic’s Hot Start and have had several folks reach out asking for support in running their team retreats. If you’re ready to prioritize your growth and reconnect as a team, but are unsure where to start, let’s chat.
We offer a totally free Scale Session, a no B.S. strategy call that prioritizes you.