It's team retreat season! Just check out this beautiful setting that I was in for a management retreat yesterday:
I can't look at this picture without taking a deep breath. It's just that peaceful.
If you're planning a team retreat, you may be weighing whether or not it is worth the trouble and expense of holding it offsite. To be sure, there are significant costs associated with taking the team out of the office: travel time; paying for space, food and lodging; making arrangements with family to be away from home.
But after facilitating countless team retreats over the last decade, I can tell you that it is pretty much always worth the extra cost (financial and otherwise) to take the team out of the office. At it's best, the effect of being on retreat is almost magical.
Here are some of the benefits:
1) Focus. It is hard for staff to immerse themselves in a retreat if they are running back to their desks to do work every time they have a break. You don't want the valuable time you've set aside for folks to feel like "just another meeting." When your team is offsite, the work you are there to do is front and center, all of the everyday noise fades into the background.
2) Perspective. Being taken out of our day-to-day routines helps us see possibilities that didn't occur to us before. We see our colleagues in new ways when we are taking a walk with them in the woods, rather than looking at them across a board table. Old patterns of thinking and communication that may be holding us back can loosen and shift when we are out of our normal environment.
3) Downtime. Deep connections are built during downtime. When people have the opportunity to eat meals together, stay up late and swap life stories, or just relax and be silly, they build meaningful bonds that rarely emerge in the office environment. These relationships aren't just a "nice to have" - they are crucial to your team's ability to navigate conflict, work collaboratively and problem solve back at work.
4) Transformation. Remember that transformational team moment that happened in our regular Monday staff meeting in the conference room down the hall? No, neither do I. Being in a new, neutral and (hopefully) beautiful place PLUS being invited to communicate on a deeper level is like rocket fuel for breakthroughs and transformational change.
5) Appreciation. I've read a version of this comment many times on retreat evaluations: "It means a lot to me that the organization invested in us by taking us on this retreat." Build commitment to the mission and the organization by investing in your people - they will notice and appreciate it.
Of course, a beautiful setting alone will not guarantee a fantastic retreat. Timing, thoughtful planning, and great facilitation are all important factors. But, my experience has show me that even if all of those other factors are in place, the retreat that is offsite will have a greater positive impact on relationships and results - and ultimately be a better investment of everyone's precious time and resources.
If you're considering something like this for your team, contact me. Let's co-create your magical retreat!