In the last installment of this series, I wrote about the first couple of ways that a team-building retreat can benefit your non-profit staff. Specifically, I gave these two reasons:

  • Most people are not good communicators to begin with, so they need lots of instruction and practice
  • A team-building retreat is a shared experience outside of the workplace environment

If you haven’t read the first part, I suggest you click here to catch up.

Today, I will share two more reasons that scheduling a team-building retreat will greatly benefit your non-profit organization.

3. The third benefit is that a team-building retreat allows the people on your staff to see each other in a very different light. From day to day, under your normal working conditions, people often fall into very predictable roles. Much of this has to do with the routines that we discussed in the previous article. People get comfortable with how others view them and are generally reluctant to accept change in their co-workers.

This locks individuals into very narrow patterns of behavior, and it ultimately lessens a person’s creativity and initiative.

However, a team-building retreat can change all this. Because the activities presented during a retreat are so outside the norm for your staff, and because they are designed to be challenging in nature, your employees have no choice but to “think outside the box” they came in.

In addition, the facilitator has most likely never met the members of your staff before, so he or she has no idea who the problem solver is or who is incredibly shy. Everyone starts with a blank slate. In this way, people can actually surprise others with their unpredictable behavior- in a good and helpful way.

For instance, perhaps the shy person has a brilliant idea on how to solve a particular challenge. Normally, he or she wouldn’t speak up. But, the facilitator is trained to spot the person with the good idea and then help coax that shy person out of his or her shell. Once their suggestion is made, other people will see that the shy person has a side that he or she had never presented before. And that can lead to real change back in your work place. Now imagine this same ground-breaking scenario with almost every person on your staff. The results can be astounding. In many ways, a team-building retreat can be a day of re-birth and re-invention for many people in your organization.

4. The fourth reason a team-building retreat is such a good idea is that it gives your staff experience talking to each other in different ways. The most obvious example of this is the Full Value Agreement, which is very common at many retreat centers. One part of this agreement is that the facilitators asks the group to keep each other “emotionally” safe during the day, which means that everyone agrees to only use encouraging language.

Believe it or not, adults are really bad at this. Worse than kids. Adults can really go after each other verbally. Usually it’s done under the guise of humor, but the results can be very destructive. It becomes so commonplace, that many grown-ups struggle to even become aware they are hurting someone else.

Other people use language to denigrate themselves.  I know that self-deprecation can be very funny, but there is often underlying insecurity and poor self-esteem in the hearts of the people making these kinds of comments.

But, during a team-building retreat, the facilitator will put an immediate stop to these kinds of communication. And if someone does say something negative or hurtful, the activity stops and the facilitator (or anyone else in the group) can call the perpetrator out on his or her comments.

Usually just one transgression is enough to stop the offensive behavior.

After an entire day of this positive, re-enforcing conversation, people start to change their attitudes. They see that more good comes from encouraging people than does tearing them down. This very important lesson can be built upon back at the workplace and the possibility for real, positive change is available to you.

To be continued…

For more ideas on the value of team-building for your non-profit staff, check back here soon!

Photo by: michaelcardus

Posted on 26 January 2011

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