Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.
You ask, What are you doing?
Can't you see? I'm sawing down this tree, the woodsman says impatiently.
You respond, You look exhausted! How long have you been at it?
Over five hours, he returns, and I'm beat! This is hard work.
You inquire: Well, why don't you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw? I'm sure it would go a lot faster.
I don't have time to sharpen the saw, the man says emphatically. I'm too busy sawing!
The story is from Steven Covey's book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
It illustrates the importance of stopping periodically to assess and strategize. Unless you pause to evaluate your circumstances, it’s difficult to improve. A retreat offers that opportunity.
A team retreat is a time out, a valuable period of reflection and development. A team retreat is an effective way to clarify goals; to gain commitment and loyalty; to build trust and openness; and to raise awareness and skill.
Hopefully you are not thinking like the woodsman…I don’t have time. As the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail.
Whether you have a new or mature team in your office, periodically it’s important to step back from the day-to-day work routine and look at issues in more depth. This allows you and your staff the ability to review, discuss and plan those things that are key for team success.
Retreats increase communication between all employees. They can provide input on their work as well as the direction of the practice. Consequently they develop ownership and loyalty. Retreats engender more commitment, and more initiative.
Although team retreats offer both fun and education to employees, effective team retreats go beyond simple recreational bonding activities. In the process of a team retreat, employees build bridges for results (what do each of us need to do to help the team); processes (how do we communicate, make decisions, and solve problems in the office), and behaviors (for improved productivity).
If you are considering a team retreat, here are some guidelines.
- Think about what you want to accomplish. Establish clear outcome goals.
- Set the time frame. Retreats vary from four hours up to two or more days.
- Prepare. If you want a top quality retreat, it is important to plan ahead.
- Establish a tone that is relaxing, entertaining and keeps people interested.
- If you are not familiar with retreats, it would be wise to have a facilitator.
Keep in mind that the retreat is only one step on a path to performance development. Therefore, your design should include follow-up retreats to ensure continued progress.
Make time to 'sharpen your saw'. Call me – I can help.
Dr Haller can be reached at email@example.com. For more information on Dr. Haller facilitating your Team Retreat go here
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