A circle of hands interlocked by holding each persons wrist.

Recently 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 up 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.

Although progress was being made along the way, 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. The high demand on the team energy and time was having a negative impact on their ability to work as a united group of leaders. From my observation, the culture they had developed 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 was raised to address the issue. It was necessary for the team to have an offsite ‘retreat’ to realign the team and get them together 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?

The retreat turned out to be 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.  The team had the chance to connect and get to know more about each other. Through stronger relationships and deeper understanding, trust was naturally established. I am certain this deep level of engagement and commitment would not have occurred onsite where distractions can take precedence.

A lesson has been learnt: in your plan, it is critical to make room for team bonding sessions that strengthen the relationships amongst everyone and establish trust. Sometimes we need to slow down, fuel our engine and speed up. If done properly, it will boost the team’s performance and outputs.

Here are some easy ways to start with. It totally depends on your creativity!

  1. Lunch discussions – Provide lunch for everyone in your team, divide them into smaller groups of 2-3 people and encourage them to share their lessons and interesting work experiences with each other during their lunch.
  2. Offsite trips – Your team can go on small trips together.  These should be non-work related and focused on building relationships.
  3. Team fitness session – You can schedule a few hours for activities such as yoga, walking or group exercise in a fitness centre. This is not only beneficial for your team health but also for their spirit and relationships.
  4. Professional development – Learning and improving professional skills are important to your team, and it doesn’t need to happen individually. Your team can together go to a conference, a training workshop or a speech. Sharing what everyone has learnt after the session will strengthen the communication and benefit your team development.
  5. Birthday celebrations – To most people, birthday is very special and celebrating their birthdays shows that you care.

Have you put anything like this in your plan yet?