As a marketing communications team that works with high-growth technology brands, it’s easy to be swept up in the day-to-day busyness of what’s on our immediate to-do list. But the last couple of years have certainly been difficult to get together in-person (hello, COVID and all of its variants) - and as the pandemic has brought about changes in how we work, our client’s businesses, and our own firm, a kickoff was clearly top priority to assess the past year, and look forward to the year ahead. And it’s not just Gravitate - many companies are prioritizing kickoffs and offsites as a way to bring teams together.
At Gravitate, we took a couple of days away from our usual schedules to come together, and foster a safe and open space to discuss who we are as a team, our culture, values, goals and future growth. Ultimately, the two days were incredibly well spent - we’ve come away feeling energized, excited and eager to progress with the actions we’d agreed upon during our kickoff (which we’re already ticking off less than a week since our time together)!
If you’re looking at planning your own company offsite - or are interested in knowing more about Gravitate - here’s a few takeaways from the two days.
Everyone at Gravitate was excited about the kickoff (we’d been talking about it since the end of 2021), but some people on our team had never participated in a kickoff before, at any company. For any kickoff, it’s really important ahead of time to get people energized, involved and thinking about the event.
Ahead of the kickoff, we asked everyone to share their thoughts on what would be a theme that embodied Gravitate, that we could weave into the preparation and actual event. We had a whopping 20 kickoff theme suggestions to choose from. It was a close race, but the winning theme for 2022 was “integrity.” We felt that it embodied who we are - a straight-talking, honest, and diverse team who are equal partners with our clients, and each other. We’re accountable to each other, and it’s our “can-do” spirit that allows us to do our work exceptionally well, uncover compelling stories and insights, punch above our weight, and secure phenomenal, industry-leading results. Having a theme made sure that we came into the kickoff operating with a very open, supportive and transparent space when sharing ideas and suggestions. We didn’t ask everyone to do much planning ahead of time, other than have some high-level thoughts on highlights/areas for improvement from last year, ideas for this year, and bringing their own goals to the meeting.
Finally, we sent some new Gravitate swag (yay!) related to the kickoff. (Well, it was meant to arrive ahead of time, but global supply shortages affected that… however, it’s also the thought that counts)!
Any company kickoff is a big undertaking, and part of the challenge is that we felt that there was so much to cover - we could probably talk for weeks if given the opportunity! Several teammates sat down ahead of time and narrowed it down to these areas of focus:
By having several of us come together ahead of time, we were able to finalize the agenda quickly and effectively, and collaborated effectively to plan the big picture down to the minute details (including some very meticulous time allocation against each of the agenda topics).
We made a conscious decision to bring our team together to meet in person for the kickoff, to break us out of our daily routines, and foster a more open and spontaneous environment to share ideas and feedback. We used our massive whiteboard to see everything plotted out - and starting with the SWOT, it was amazing to see how open we were as a team to talk through all the good (strengths, opportunities), and areas for improvement (weaknesses, threats).
This led into our goal setting - sharing the future from a broader company perspective, but then mapping back all of our goals to be part of the bigger picture. What was exciting and gratifying was that we could not only connect each other’s insights and goals more tangibly, but that people were literally cheering each other on in the room as we discussed these as a team. We asked each other questions. We built suggestions on top of ideas. We created plans and deadlines.
Towards the end of the last day, we had a section focused on values - and while we’re close to unveiling these, we recognized that we needed to spend more time in the other areas. There’ll be more to share shortly on values soon!
The Gravitate kickoff gave us all an opportunity to really connect in new and meaningful ways that enriched our ways of working together. At times we were vulnerable and candid with each other, and this afforded us the chance to be more empathetic of each other, and encourage an open and judgment-free space. While there’s a lot to unpack, discuss, scrutinize and plan when it comes to kickoffs, it’s also the perfect time to socialize as a team - including a team breakfast, lunch and happy hour!