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Bread & Jam

Last week CJAM held an all-hands meeting that we call Bread & Jam. The Bread element covers the financial side, while Jam is about new ideas and initiatives.  It brings together the whole team and is a real opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the last Quarter, as well as look to the future.

We do this regularly because we believe all businesses need those moments of pause to understand why we’re doing the jobs we’re doing, and recognise the successes so far, as well as the goals for the future. These combine to tell the ongoing story of our business and help to explain, intellectually and emotionally, why we all get up in the morning and come to this place to work.

The business benefits for doing this fall under a number of different headings: HR; Internal Communications; Business Plan. A number of simple steps are taken to ensure that we are as productive as possible:

  1. Our senior directors and MD sit down to agree the meeting’s objectives
  2. The time and date are agreed, an invitation sent out; our team was given a month’s notice to let people plan their workload accordingly
  3. The length of the meeting is clearly set out; Bread & Jam was allocated a full half day
  4. Everyone in the business is asked to put together a single slide about their accounts and to talk through that slide at the meeting; a week’s notice was given for this because War and Peace wasn’t required
  5. Our directors agree on the corporate focus for the meeting
  6. Action points, not minutes, are taken; following the meeting they were emailed to the whole company to remind everyone of their own responsibilities and what happens next

We used this particular meeting to pin down all the ‘wouldn’t it be good if we could…’ conversations we’d had in the last three months. Our MD has a thousand and one ideas for our business (it is, after all, why she’s the MD) and this gave rise to the creation of Business Champions for each of the agreed activities they generated.  It will give staff a role beyond their accounts that will allow them to share other aspects of their skillset and create broader social interaction between different employees who may not normally work together.  This should create a closer bond between staff, allowing the CJAM family ethos to flourish between all employees and not just some. By improving different internal aspects of our business, it should also have a positive impact on all clients and on our business growth.

Every business likes to think that overall, it’s doing a good job.  Yet without continuous evaluation, reflection and improvement, organisations will inevitably stagnate.

Recently we’ve heard about the closure of 50 Mothercare stores as part of a plan to save their business.  Its board and senior team have, over a number of years, failed to respond to the changing habits and budgets of its core and target customers.  Mothercare has been a stalwart brand of the British high street for over 50 years and it’s almost unthinkable that it will disappear.   Yet no one has a right to stay in business. Without focused employee engagement, a detailed understanding of who your stakeholders are, and a business plan that is reviewed and enhanced regularly, there is the risk that you will lose the foothold you once thought was secure.

Resisting complacency starts with ensuring your employees fully engage with your business, through consistent communication; training and development; benefits and reviews; and an honest, regular review of your stakeholders, competitors and the market in which you operate.

Our Bread & Jam meeting generated huge amounts of enthusiasm, with people embracing their Business Champion roles and new ideas emerging for our business.  The hard work now starts as we encourage our Champions to step out to drive their initiatives forward, to the mutual benefit of our company and the clients we work with.  We’ll keep you updated.

If any of this has resonated with you, and you’d like to talk to us about your own internal communications, or would like the CJAM team to lead an all-hands meeting for you, then get in touch with Lucy on or call us on 01787 226995

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