“We have a great team and want to do something fun on a team-building retreat. Some people are new so we want to build cohesion and learn how to work better together. I want to keep it positive and for them to feel valued because they all work so hard.”
We love fun, positive retreats, but group hugs and singing Kumbaya—not so much. Retreats are a fabulous opportunity to:
- Celebrate the team
- Learn more about each other
- Identify synergies and plan how to work more effectively together
- Get on the same page
- Work on the “important but not urgent” issues
For this project, we first met with the team leader to determine his objectives. He wanted to help the group work better together, and it was important that the retreat be fun and uplifting.
Because the group was the executive team, we also met individually with each leader to build rapport, understand the team dynamics and surface any challenges we might want to resolve during the retreat. We never do artificial exercises during our team-building, but instead build cohesion by facilitating the resolution of real problems or focusing on strategic issues. Based on the information collected, we customized an agenda for a six-hour session.
We took a deep dive into strengths, examining dynamics and determining individual superpowers (e.g., futuristic and ideation combined to allow someone the ability to develop innovative solutions for future problems). This approach kept the mood light and positive while being constructive. They learned that what might have seemed like a team member’s “quirk” was often a behavior tied to the person’s strengths. This open sharing and the exercises resulted in a lot of laughter and learning; it built the cohesion of the group and the new members felt more included. We then focused on combining strengths of different individuals to form team superpowers.
Even though some of the participants had been friends for years, they were amazed at what they didn’t know about each other. We uncovered personal working preferences and new strengths that could help individuals work more effectively together. They also learned how to aim their strengths at challenges to achieve better results.
The group left the session feeling excited, more connected and hopeful about resolving some critical issues, and charged up about the company’s mission.