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By Todd Dewett | Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Building a better team retreat: Management Tips

Management Tips

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One of the biggest potential wastes of time and money in corporate America is the team-building retreat. Retreats are rarely well planned well or correctly facilitated. The result is that teams often dread attending retreats, considering them either a waste of time or, best case, merely some “fun time” away from the office. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If handled correctly, team retreats can be productive, educational events that strengthen team bonds and encourage creativity.

My first management tip this week looks at the planning phase of a successful team retreat. It starts with being honest about what the team needs; a dose of fun is always helpful, but it should be bundled with serious, targeted learning. Is your team’s key issue trust? A lack of candor? Greater accountability? Brainstorm on the possible learning areas you could tackle, talk to your team, and choose a relevant topic.

Only after choosing and focusing on a topic can you begin thinking about the types of activities you can use to build learning experiences around it. Those activities might involve navigating rope courses, being blindfolded, building things as a group—who knows? Just be sure your learning goals don’t get lost in the rush to have fun.

The best way to accomplish your team goals with a retreat is to have a professional facilitate the entire event. There are pros and cons associated with choosing an outsider versus an insider, but in any case that person should possess certain key skills: fearlessness in tackling issues, positivity, and respect for your team. A good retreat leader can watch a group activity and then objectively, concisely debrief the team about the individual behaviors he or she observed.

With a little forethought, corporate retreats don’t have to be expensive wastes of time. In fact, they can be transformative if you know how to plan and facilitate them properly.

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