Skip to Content

Plante Moran’s firm conference is chockfull of “little wows” (Guest blog featuring Jim Proppe)

July 21, 2014 Blog 2 min read
While Gordon is on sabbatical, he’s invited Jim Proppe, a member of Plante Moran’s six-person management team, to fill in as a guest blogger. In his role as Group Managing Partner, Jim leads client service, growth, and people development for the firm’s industry-focused practice areas.

Each year, we invite our 2,000+ staff (the entire firm!) to join us for a day of celebration. We call it our Firm Conference.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year, and it comes with a fair amount of reflection. What did we accomplish? What didn’t we get to? How sound are our day-to-day, one-year, and five-year strategies? At times I feel like I’m in a time warp; is this 2014 or 2020?

That’s why it’s so nice to shut down for a day simply to look back at all that we’ve accomplished and look forward at what’s to come. You can almost feel us take a collective breath as we pause to enjoy—for one special day—each other’s accomplishments, big and small.

A few years ago, we were fortunate to have Dennis Snow from Disney as a guest speaker at our firm conference. He spoke about client service and what he called “big wows”—arranging for a family to be grand marshals of a Disney parade, for example—and also what he called “little wows”—small, sincere, personalized actions that, taken alone, may seem like no big deal but, considered together, add up to make a big impact.

We have several big wows that we celebrate at our firm conference, such as partner and staff promotions, but this year, we asked our partners to share some of these “little wows” that our staff had accomplished. The responses were overwhelming. I thought I’d share a few with you now:

  • A wealth management staff member got a request from a client to help him wire money for a down payment on a vacation that he was taking with his wife and kids. The remaining payment was due in five months.  Our staff member set a reminder five months down the road to check with the client to see if he remembered to pay off the trip…and he hadn’t. Thanks to our staff, the payment was made on time. Wow!
  • Recently, while a couple of our clients were visiting China, our country manager had welcome baskets delivered to the clients’ hotel rooms before their arrival. The baskets included business cards for each client translated into Chinese, pocket cash in Chinese currency (for tips, assuming they hadn’t yet exchanged dollars), American snack foods, frequently used Chinese phrases, and a welcome letter. The client was blown away.
  • One of our audit associates makes a wildly popular banana pudding dish each year during a client’s audit. A new person at the client said she’d heard about the treat before the audit even began, and everyone was wondering what day it would show up. Sometimes even something as simple as a dessert can be a huge “Wow” to a client.

And there are so many more where those come from! This is just a handful of examples of how staff have stepped outside of what’s expected to make a difference and wow their clients and colleagues.

So how about you? What are some of the little wows from your organization? And do you have an annual conference to celebrate accomplishments? If not, how does your organization pause and reflect on a job well done?

Related Thinking

Professional photo of Jim Proppe.
April 10, 2024

A grand experiment, 100 years in the making

Article 3 min read
Doctor sitting at a desk using a computer
December 28, 2023

Finding meaning in the “why:” Delta Dental’s plan for an enduring organization

Article 6 min read
Top down view of a rowing team rowing through the water.
April 3, 2023

Alix James: Leading through change in midmarket manufacturing

Article 6 min read