One unfortunate aspect of team building is its overuse as a word, especially in a corporate setting. In the same way that the concept of staff engagement has led to a certain degree of paying lip service, so team building efforts and initiatives can often feel vague and insubstantial.
How can businesses transform team building from a vague aspiration into a concrete achievement?
“Often, it’s the work environment that acts as a break on how teams can develop and make true progress,” observes Melinda Beckett-Hughes of Ayuda. “This is where a retreat makes business sense, because it offers a genuine alternative, away from the workplace, for people to develop within teams.”
Taking Time to Reflect
The original definition of a retreat is a quiet, secluded place where someone can rest and relax. Add reflect to this, because a key quality of a retreat is how it enables people to take more time just to think.
“Build reflection time into a team building agenda, whether this is for people individually or as a group,” Melinda advises. “The whole point of removing people to a neutral location is to take them out of their work routine, which typically is hurried, and time-poor.”
At the same time, team building requires a structure, with clear objectives, so using a retreat as a setting should involve a balanced approach.
“Be clear about how you want people to approach the time they have, but don’t try to cram things into too tight a slot,” suggests Melinda.
“Your aim should be for depth, not scratching the surface. Time for reflection is crucial for personal development but also for how a business evolves as a whole”
Teambuilding in a retreat setting means allowing space for sharing experiences, exchanging views and enabling openness, but not over-engineering how this unfolds.
Uncovering Hidden Talent
Alongside the benefits of building cohesion, comes personal development, and discovering whole new sides to people once they are removed from their standard, workplace routines.
“Seeing someone in a new context can reveal their hidden potential,” says Melinda.
“The change of scene can become a powerful incentive for motivating people, so that they perform differently, and better, as individuals and team members”
Melinda emphasises the enabling aspects of team building, where individuals perform tasks and work together in ways which might be unfamiliar, but are energising and inspiring.
“Sometimes it’s the out-of-the-ordinary that brings out different qualities in people, and helps shift the entire dynamic of a team,” she concludes. “People learn new facets about their colleagues, and this knowledge translates into a greater mutual understanding that underpins how they work together, as a team.”