Posted on February 27, 2017
Your company is as strong as the individuals who operate it every day. I won’t say “only as strong,” because I like to think that there is no limit to how far we as individuals and as teams can advance. But it’s easy to get comfortable in our routines and forget that the company will grow only when our employees have real opportunities to stretch beyond their comfort zones and to reconnect purposefully to personal and collective goals.
So consider following the lead of some of the most successful companies in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and LA by planning an immersive retreat to reinvigorate your team. You don’t even have to go far from the office: there is a vast range of California retreat centers and other peaceful locations that will give your team a break and put them in a position of recalibration and expansion.
Help Your Team Get Away in Order to Stretch
Corporate employees are often jaded by typical business accommodations—and your accommodations will set the tone for your retreat. A fresh, peaceful environment will help gently shake up stagnation and encourage the vulnerability from which real growth happens. By signaling that you value relaxation and by loosening up the usual workplace barriers, you can work together to find fresh perspective.
Be Creative about Your Productivity Goals
Sure, you’ll still get work done—but not in the same way your team usually does: cordoned off into established spaces. Encourage your employees to bring their ideas to the retreat—new initiatives and growth opportunities as well as everyday adjustments that could improve work life. There may be some team members with groundbreaking ideas who haven’t been heard yet simply because they are quieter. By breaking the mold and allowing coworkers to interact on a level playing field, all of your talent has a chance to step up. Try to invite these opportunities by:
- Passing around an object (like a talking stick) during some activities, which allows only the person holding it to speak in the moment
- Planning competitive events that allow more than just the most athletic or the most senior team members to excel. You might create a role-playing game in which teams compete in mock situation—but with usual roles reversed: your manager must handle web design, and your accountant is responsible for customer service.
- Asking each junior team member (or everyone) to prepare a short presentation on an idea they have for the company’s present or future goals.
Schedule Time for Organic Socialization and Bonding
Your retreat is a chance to breathe new life into your objectives and motivations, but it’s also a chance for everyone to get to know each other better—especially if your team is spread throughout California or throughout the country.
You can expect that people will need free time to rest and recharge, but don’t assume that everyone will get enough socialization during these breaks. If you make free time a choice between self-time and team connection time, the introverts will also miss out (again) on valuable networking since they really do need this period to recharge. Instead, proactively plan bonding experiences right into the retreat schedule:
- Plan a good old-fashioned campfire with s’mores, so people can talk over the fire, feeling as if they are back at summer camp in the California mountains
- Organize games—like a scavenger hunt or trivia—that help people get to know each other and the wider company better
- Let meals be time for unstructured conversation, but encourage people to sit with others they don’t know as well—and lead by example, moving throughout the group and striking up conversations you don’t get to have in the normal work week
Let Team-building Be a Primary Retreat Goal
If you want this retreat to have a lasting impact, take advantage of opportunities for growth both personal and collective while everyone is together. As individuals, it’s critical that we challenge the beliefs and habits that keep us stuck in our comfort zones. And as teams, we have to encourage exciting new developments but also acknowledge and face the areas of discomfort and conflict that are just as much a part of our family dynamic.
- Ropes courses ask your employees to work as a team as they navigate the redwoods. It’s fun and invigorating and a powerful exercise in trust (of oneself and each other). Plus, California’s giant redwood groves offer a striking example of how teams grow strong and tall: these trees connect their root structures together for stability while reaching into the sky individually.
- Communication exercises can help bring awareness to stagnant team energy, but they can also encourage people to feel more comfortable speaking up. When you’re all together here, it’s a great time to practice active listening, meaningful eye contact, and compassion for the whole person—beyond just the role that they play in your company.
Return to Work Already Relating to the Vast Growth Potential
When the retreat is done, your team will return to their zones—their physical zones and their time zones. But if your retreat has been successful, your employees won’t be interested in returning to their comfort zones because they’ve experienced an alternative way of connecting to their coworkers and their company. They’ve found greater connection to your vision because they’ve had the opportunity to help imagine and shape it.
If you’re interested in a beautiful California retreat location right in the Bay Area, come check out Kennolyn. We’ll help you find the perfect balance between relaxation and growth for your work family.