Refresh Team Engagement Regularly
I see LinkedIn announcements every day from people enthusiastically reporting new roles in new organizations. Hiring trends are strong and savvy companies are bringing in top talent. With a focus on retaining newly hired top talent and honoring the existing staff already in place, I encourage you to consider a team engagement refresh on a regular basis.
New team members, new leaders, and seasoned colleagues who know the ropes need to level set and get to know each other, on a regular basis to honor continuous culture development and clarity of expectations.
As a leadership coach, a common frustration I hear from clients is lack of communication, trust, and mission focus on a team. If you lead a team, this is a wonderful opportunity to bring your people together for a reboot. If your team is new to you, a fresh start level-set set can do a world of good to create agency, buy-in, and a healthy culture you design together.
I plan retreats with my team at least twice a year. Even though we’ve been working together for a while, life changes and so do the needs of each team member. I like to go offsite to gather in a creative space, but you can certainly do this in-house and make the professional development experience budget neutral. The rock climbing or group cooking classes are trendy team building experiences with merit, but the real work happens when people listen and learn about each other in a comfortable and safe space setting.
Retreat ground rules help set the stage for focus, attention and as much technology unplugging as possible. There are always fires to be put out, but with advanced planning you can set expectations beyond your team, so the retreat time is honored and respected by other colleagues with whom you work. Ask the team to share what they need to be fully present during the retreat at the start.
Gallup Reality Check
Gallup reports in their latest State of the Global Workplace: 2022 Report, only 21% of global employees are engaged at work, with low engagement costing the global economy $7.8 trillion. Since managers account for 70% of the variance in engagement, your team’s involvement and enthusiasm depends on you. Bottom line – don’t leave your team’s engagement to chance.
As a certified Gallup Strengths Coach, empowering others to play to their strengths is my jam. A team retreat is an ideal opportunity to spend time looking at individual and team strengths and how they can be leveraged to achieve goals and work smarter. When people are playing to their strengths they are energized, productive, and more deeply satisfied in life and career.
Do I Need a Retreat Facilitator?
Shameless self-promotion warning – I love to facilitate team retreats and do this on a regular basis in my consulting practice. Contact me if you want to learn more. If you lead a team, having an outside facilitator can allow you to be fully present to actively listen and learn from your direct reports so you can serve them well. But don’t let a lack of funding for a facilitator prevent you from holding a retreat. Here are some techniques to get you started. I encourage you to deputize team members to lead sections of the retreat, so the focus is always not on the leader if you don’t have a professional facilitator.
You Get the Best of Me
With a nod to Gallup and their extraordinary tools about how to engage a team, share these questions in advance, to allow for process time and debrief together during the retreat. Smart leaders and colleagues will take notes to better honor each other’s needs moving forward.
- You get the best of me when…
- You get the worst of me when…
- You can count on me to…
- This is what I need from you…
Studies tell us that values disconnect, culture misalignment and lack of recognition or validation are factors in high employee turn-over. During the team retreat, ask how individuals would like to be recognized for great work – including the leader. It can be very lonely at the top.
Tap into Chapman and White’s book, Languages of Appreciation in the Workplaceand website for a myriad of resources about appreciation at work. Here are the basics to get you started with ways to appreciate someone by asking – What type of recognition motivates you? These recognition choices are a great point of departure.
- Words of Affirmation – language to affirm other people – be specific
- Acts of Service – actions speak louder than words
- Receiving Gifts – token of appreciation to feel acknowledged
- Quality Time – give another individual your undivided attention
Action Step for Leaders
After the retreat you will have notes, reactions, and observations to process as you learn about your team members – new, and seasoned. The leader should be asking themselves:
- Am I giving individuals feedback on how they are meeting goals?
- Do my team members know that I care about them and their success?
- What can I do to help individuals do their best?
- How can I remove barriers and set the team up for success daily?
Accountability for All
The possibilities for retreat exercises and experience are endless and the teachable moment is a regular cadence of this type of group learning. Change is ubiquitous, stress is real, and coming together to learn about what’s happening in the lives of others now will make for a stronger team moving forward.
It’s time to act and commit to learning about the individuals on your team, so the group can function highly and be well-engaged. Employee retention with be the predictor of your leadership success.