Team Retreats – What’s the Point?

Team Retreats I was recently asked to participate in a specialist department’s retreat – I know I know, ‘retreat’ is often a catch-all we use to either shove a tonne of information down unsuspecting employee’s throats or a flowery-feel good waste of time (and often company funds). But then I spoke to the team manager and to be honest I was inspired about the refreshing point of view and clear objectives this manager had set for her team. It made me reflect on the potential for these types of sessions when they are approached in (what I think) is the right way. The ‘Right’ Way? The ‘Right’ way is not:

  • Using the retreat for an excuse to get the team together to pump out work – actually, you can do this in the office, or in a planning day type situation
  • Using the retreat to do naff team building activities with no real objective or purpose. Yeah – team building is great, but if you’re spending 2 days of your team’s time offsite there should be real purpose to your plan

But the ‘Right’ way can be:

  • A good understanding of what issues in the team/work performance need to be addressed
  • Thought through objectives for the retreat – what is realistic to address/accomplish and what is not
  • What is the plan longer-term – addressing topics at a retreat is well and good, but if you don’t have a follow-through plan (and actually action it) you may as well not bother.

I’m off on Tuesday afternoon to observe how this team accomplishes their objectives – they are working to Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which I’m really enjoying so far as at tool to help identify issues and provide a discourse to address them in a safe environment. I’ll keep you posted!

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