For a number of months I have been working closely with an alliance management team who are at the commencement of a large project.  During our time together I have delivered a number of on site workshops that focused on setting up the team for success. The goal is for them to become a high performing team. With that in mind we worked through things such as; role clarity, gaining alignment and building trust.

Whilst working through theses items progress was being made, however I still felt that something was not clicking within the team. Trust was low and there was a lack of focus on what mattered most. Increasing demands on the teams time and energy was having a negative impact on their ability to work as a united group of leaders. They had developed a culture that was reactive and scattered… a far cry from the high performing team they were aspiring to be. Something had to give… the team needed to move from reactive to proactive… from scattered to focused… from chaotic to high performance!

A suggestion that was raised to address the issue was an offsite ‘retreat’ to realign the team and get them for a couple of days. An out of city location that allowed focus, had limited distractions and provided space to regroup was selected. In all honesty I was a little skeptical about the benefits of taking the team offsite to a retreat.  Would a change in environment really deliver the shift in mindset we required?  Would this really impact on our ability to get the team to slow down, be completely honest with each other and take accountability for the changes required? Would this contribute towards building trust in the team?

Trust = Speed

Without trust the team’s aspiration to be high performing was little more than a pipe dream. Whenever there is a lack of trust amongst project leaders there is a barrier toward high performance.  The retreat was an extraordinary success and team engagement over the two days was outstanding!  Issues were acknowledged, sacred cows were exposed and clear strategies for improvement were committed to.  During the two days away it was not only the group work, but also the social times during the evening and throughout the day that really contributed to the teams ability to get to know each other and connect. Relationships were built and trust was established. I am certain this deep level of engagement and commitment would not have occurred onsite where distractions can take precedence.

Here’s the lesson – taking the time out, as a team is critical!  Here’s your challenge – slow down to build trust with your team, if done properly it will speed up performance and outputs.

The conclusion we all had at the end of the retreat was that we should have done it sooner!