Every other month, we have an all-staff meeting where we get together for lunch, laugh on a personal level, and cover a variety of business along the way. Even though we see each other on a weekly basis, these meetings are great ways for us to connect, provide updates, and recalibrate on key issues. I’m sure many of you have either led or been part of meetings like this in your business or organization.
This year, we are dedicating much of this time to professional development. If you’re like me, that term is not always something that you look forward to. I am a firm believer in professional development, but throughout my career, this term has mostly applied to “sit-and-get” opportunities where I sat for a period of time and received an enormous amount of information, and it was up to me to discern what was actually worthwhile.
Early in my career, I was the up-and-coming economic development professional who had his entire career in front of him. During those early years (and in many ways, it continues today), I have been fortunate to have great leaders around me who mentored me, provided feedback, gave me permission to take chances, and helped me develop professionally. Here at the Ames Chamber of Commerce, I want to provide those catalytic opportunities for our team. I want to afford our people the opportunity to improve their craft and understanding of our industry, but also to build the soft business skills that can make them well-rounded professionals. This year, we are engaging in communication training.
During the first session, we each completed a Strengths Finder Assessment that helped each of us understand what we naturally do best and how to maximize our talents for the organization. Depending on where we are at in our career, these assessments can provide insights and clarity. For me, it provided language and reinforced things that I already knew. Just as interesting to me, however, is to be able to see and contemplate the strengths of others. I appreciate seeing how the talents of others are hard-wired into them and it challenged my thinking of how we not only embrace those talents, but how we leverage them when we consider whether each person is in the right seat.
Session two looked at non-verbal communication to help us understand what is being said even when nobody is saying anything. Over half of what we communicate is non-verbal. What are we saying with our body language and how can we be conscious of it to improve ourselves professionally?
I look forward to the remainder of the year as these sessions continue. Although each one is light-hearted and fun, the investment helps build and grow our staff professionally. It will allow us to develop better relationships, build confidence in our team, and ultimately provide better service to the business community of the Ames MSA.
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