Director – People, Culture & Talent | January 4, 2020
After 3 months of working alongside my fellow Perxters, I can confidently say we are a team firmly organized around shared goals, purpose, and an unwavering belief in the company. It’s almost cultish here! And I am also almost certain it is the reason behind a successful year that was 2019.
It is easy to snub team offsite as shindigs marked by town halls, meetings and straight-off-an-old-corporate-manual team building activities that are almost always followed by copious amounts of drinking. I’ve attended quite a few of these. And while most offsites/team retreats live up to the cliche and are predictably fun events, few end up being the setting of deep explorations, focused conversations, and concrete decisions – the things that actually make the offsite worth it!
I and my fellow Perxters spent a weekend at Batam, Indonesia earlier this November, away from day to day routines and responsibilities. We were ringing in the close of a wonderful year that was 2019 – so many goals met and awards earned – and to take a moment to reflect on the learnings as well as matters of a broad range – immediate goals, major issues, expectations we want to tackle in 2020, and so on.
This was my first such outing with ‘Team Perx’ (I’d joined as the head of talent only 3 months earlier). I work out of Australia, so this offsite, which took place in the wonderful setting provided by the Turi Beach resort, was going to be my first in-person interaction with the corporate team that works out of our main Singapore office.
8 hours on a flight and jetlag later, I was among the young, vibrant and willing professionals that make up Perx. And almost immediately I began noticing how this was not your average offsite.
For one, the nature of this congregation was rather unique. The locus of a lot of the conversations right from the start of the offsite was individual impact and how it affects the larger creature that is the organization. For what it’s worth, I think this was the first time I found a company peering beyond company goals and action plans to talk about how its individuals perceived the company and navigated goals on a daily. And while not unusual, it’s certainly uncommon to stumble upon such conversations at work, let alone at an end-of-the-year offsite
I remember much of the weekend being spent on similar explorations. I remember everyone participating so very adequately, flushing out a lot of great ideas and facts as well as perceptions and opinions. Views of each department and also the impact that each department has on the other being was heard and discussed in detail. And I remember how each time we could boil the matters down to its alignment with the big vision and, once again, aspects of individual impact; ‘how what I do or say as an individual affects you as my fellow Perxter’. No wonder a lot of great insights were discovered, realizations felt, and good decisions made.
By the end of the offsite, I remember feeling… incensed. I could feel the tribalism at play. And this blanket magnetic dynamism, too.
Game theory suggests that people band together most when they have a common something – friends, foes or goals. And my experience at our Batam off-site confirmed it.
I have now come to believe that the best, most productive and high performing teams are those come together around shared beliefs and values. This is how tribes happen in real life. In our case, I see it’s the belief in Perx and alignment with the values that the company stands for – customer serving, accountability, acute product focus and a bias for excellence – that has banded everyone together into a whole is that far stronger and productive than the sum of its parts.
I think this is what it takes to build enduring teams and, for that matter, any kind of lasting relationship. Not rewards, but shared beliefs and values.
Just like how you, our client, focus on keeping your customers aligned and engaged with your larger mission and brand using Perx, internally, we harmonize by keeping ourselves tuned to the specific virtues and beliefs that shape Perx as a company. In the absence of shared values, it’s very easy for a cohort to come apart. And so it almost feels right to think that choosing your beliefs and values every day, living it, communicating it and reinforcing it consistently helps keep everyone’s focus on a north star and build tribes that stick together, grow together and do exceptional things. Sure, a unique, curated experience like an offsite at a beautiful beachfront helps seeds the message better on most days.