We just finished a team retreat and during the closing, the client shared "this was amazing, we never got the people to share so much. The sessions were fun, insightful and engaging. Thank you so much!". How did we get there?
One of the thing we can observe with many companies, friends, clients, and teams we are working with: we are overwhelmed, we are stuck in a rat race. Looking at the "Second Quadrant Model", this means we are stuck in the first quadrant: our important and urgent tasks. We don't have the bandwidth to allocate time for the important and non-urgent tasks, which allow us to build an effective work-environment and reflect on our strategy and priorities. How can we facilitate this change?
This is where team retreats come in. While an investment in time and money, they allow us to create the necessary brain space to build a solid foundation for team effectiveness. This is the exemplification of Slowdown to Speedup!
So, how shall we go about team retreats? There are some principles for successful team retreats; here is my take: a) enable the participants to switch off from their daily grind; b) lots of time for quality, social interactions; c) the managers are participants on the same level as everyone else (an independent, external facilitator helps); d) focus the sessions on topics in the second quadrant. What did I miss here?
Ok, great principles... What shall we discuss concretely? First of all, start with an overall theme for the retreat which provides the context for the conversations. Often we come across the broad opportunity around 'improving collaboration' and 'building ownership'. Though it can also have themes like 'shaping our desired culture', 'discovering new market opportunities', etc.
As a next steps, it is important to provide a structure and path for constructive and effective discussion. Here is an approach:
Great - as a team, we had 2-3 days off from our daily work and enjoyed a fantastic time with our family at work. And then we come back to the office and we will be very quickly overwhelmed. We want that the great stuff we discussed during the retreat is continued back at work; we want that we keep the momentum. For that, it is vital that we immediately build routines that carve out space for our second quadrant tasks and actions. And for sure, the foundation for this should be defined at the retreat.
How do you experience successful team retreats?
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Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.