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Field note—

Investing inward: Let’s pop the hood and see how we’re running

Emma Saunders

2 October 2018

We aim high at Empathy. We think big and each year we set ourselves goals to match. When we achieve our goals, we celebrate big too.

Being able to reach these milestones equates to months of hard work from every member in our team. To celebrate this, we take a trip together.

Last year we went to Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. The year before, we went to Samoa.

Now, I know this isn’t typical. You may be looking sideways at us and asking yourself, “couldn’t you just take the team out for dinner?”

Yes, we could, and admittedly these celebrations aren’t cheap. But we don’t see them as a cost. We see them as an investment in our future. Our people need to know they are valued and celebrated. They need to connect to each other, to their projects, and to Empathy. They need to see their hard work rewarded.

Big goals deserve big celebrations.

While celebrations are important, necessary and hard-earned, there’s more to it than just patting ourselves on the back. To produce the best results for our clients, Empathy must work like a well-oiled machine. And what do well-oiled machines need? They need maintenance. They need care. They need you to lift the hood for a regular tune up and service, to make sure everything’s working as it should be.

For Empathy’s engine to keep purring as it does, we need to turn our focus inward for a week, to treat ourselves as a client and ask ourselves the big questions around how we function and where we need to improve.

It gives us a chance to look at what Empathy is trying to achieve in the world. What are our next steps? What’s standing in our way? And how can we overcome those obstacles? A chance to look to the future. To think strategy and direction.

This focused time for both celebration and strategy means when we do get back to work, we are a highly tuned, well-oiled machine, ready to do what we do best.

These trips aren’t just a holiday, but of course there’s time for that too. They bring us together. They cement bonds formed across meeting tables. They’re about putting a line in the sand, quite literally last year on Fraser Island. That line says we’ve come this far, that’s amazing and worth celebrating, now where to next?

While some leaders might focus on the expense, or the time away from clients, we know these are small things when it comes to the reward our investment produces. Because although the trip takes us away together for just six days, the positive effects of these experiences last long after the bug bites ease and sunburns fade.