Jennifer: “How is it over already?!” “I feel energized and ready to take on these new ideas.” “We need to find a way to stop zig-zagging all over the river.” These are just a few of the comments heard during our recent three day retreat. We all agreed it was a resounding success, but what made it successful? Solid, upfront planning was key. As a team, we discussed different aspects of the retreat. We weighed in on what we wanted to accomplish during the retreat, what we valued in a location, how long it should be, and of course, what we wanted to eat. Then the planners got busy and put together an agenda and a menu. Our time was spent strategizing and engaging in recreational activities - often at the same time. We were playful even during the sit-down strategizing sessions. We took turns facilitating and found ways to be creative while making serious business decisions. As always, attitude was vitally important. We all arrived ready to engage in decision making, and to fully participate in team bonding experiences (all while keeping an eye out for bears). A foundation of trust allowed us to be courageous in sharing our ideas and to enhance the ideas of others. There were no egos in the room (or the canoe). Our three days were packed full of discussions and activities, and yet we all felt energized at the end of each day. We have returned home feeling good about the decisions we made and we’re already beginning to operationalize some of the ideas that were generated. Here are some of our favourite retreat moments and the impact that they had on our team.
Amy: At Collective Results, we believe that happiness and optimism fuel our success and we strive to bring the happy in all we do. I would say that one of the things we excel at is using fun and games to accomplish results. That’s why I was so thrilled when our innovative practices leads, Jen and Michi, facilitated a Dragon’s Den style game to help us quickly identify, develop, and pitch new product ideas to our colleagues (the dragons). There was just enough structure around this activity to set us in the right direction and help us develop our ideas, but not too much that it limited our creativity. The use of candy as currency helped to fuel our fun and competitive sides. This resulted in two fantastic ideas coming forward that were then further refined based on feedback from the dragons. We’re now able to use what we have from this activity to further develop and launch these products. Stay tuned for more info on those!
Auburn: For the last few years, nearly all of my work has been remote. It has its benefits - flexibility, the comfort of your own home, and more - but this in-person retreat reminded me of the importance of in-person connection. We cooked meals together, navigated a river by canoes together, shared stories around the campfire together, and went cranberry picking together (check out our last Blog from the Bog post!) This retreat encouraged us to plan for more in-person activities in coming months to create space for in-person connections. After the retreat, I felt such a sense of connection, comradery and pure joy. If you are reading this and have been thinking about planning your own in-person retreat, this is your sign!
Rachel: As the menu planner, I was super excited to see where our breakfast eggs were coming from. I had heard such great things about these delicious eggs - and let me tell you - they did not disappoint! Those happy, always hungry, friendly chickens sure did make egg-cellent eggs!
Lindsay: For me, the most memorable aspect of our team retreat was this resounding sense of appreciation I had over those 3 days we spent together. An appreciation for our beautiful surroundings with the magnificent pops of fall-coloured leaves everywhere we looked, for the open and supportive conversations we had about our work, for the delicious food we ate and for the caring people I was with that I am fortunate enough to call my coworkers. On our canoe adventure, for the last 200m we decided to paddle back to the beach together as a collective group. I ended up being positioned at the very back of our diamond shape and I remember looking forward to all of my teammates as we paddled and feeling so grateful in that moment. Whether in a canoe or in a business discussion, I am so thankful to be a part of this amazing team who collaborates so well and has a lot of fun together!
Michi: Who says you can’t be productive and have fun at the same time?! The success of our retreat cannot be found by measuring the number of reports produced or the amount of time spent at the computer. It gave us the time and space to think creatively and envision the workplace we would like to be a part of now and in the future. And, of course, let us not undervalue the importance of building care, trust and understanding among our team members.
Liz: When I feel really comfortable with a group and something really funny happens, I have a tendency to laugh until I cry. During our recent Collective Results retreat, I succeeded in achieving that from the moment the retreat started as Jennifer, Ishan and myself attempted to squeeze into the back of a car and buckle ourselves up. This may not sound funny to you, but to us, in that moment, it really was funny and that moment so positively set the tone of trust, camaraderie and fun in the days to come. This retreat happened exactly one year after our first retreat and since then our team has grown from 4 to 9 people! Following Retreat #1, I was confident that it would be impossible to top the success of our first retreat but I was entirely wrong. Retreat #2 with our growing team of 9 only amplified all the goodness that comes from a retreat including establishing strong connections with one another, having deep and important conversations about the business, and (most importantly) having fun! In total, I think I laughed until I cried at least 4 times during this retreat – my goal is to top that next year!
Ishan: As someone that enjoys sharing space with people and meeting in person, our team retreat was special for me. It was special because it was the first time the Collective Results team had been together as a group of 9. It w as special because for a few days we were able to focus on nothing else but our team, the company and what we were going to have for dinner. And the retreat was special because it reaffirmed many times over that I am on a team with humans that share my vision for what a positive and healthy workplace can be. During one of our planned activities, we were sharing stories of experiencing care in previous workplaces and describing what that looked, felt and sounded like in those moments. The activity was challenging and unexpectedly emotional, but the sharing and the vulnerability only took place because we felt safe enough for it to happen. I value a work culture that encourages me to share my voice, thoughts and struggles and allows for me to do so safely. We are fostering this workplace culture at Collective Results and I am thankful to be a part of building it daily.
Brianne: It is difficult to choose my favourite moment from the retreat because every activity or interaction was so enjoyable. So, rather than one moment, I will choose just being together. We see each other virtually and collaborate often, but rarely in person. These retreat days are set aside for us to connect, be productive and get energized. Although we were always busy doing something, whether it be strategizing, brainstorming or discussing, it never really felt like work. There is a certain sense of comfort and ease within the members of the team that make these types of days effortless and truly special. It felt like we were a big family hanging out around a campfire or making pizza, all while having fun doing super exciting work and coming up with some incredible ideas to move Collective Results forward. This team really enjoys being together, working together, creating together and having fun together. This retreat reaffirmed how grateful I am to be a member of this remarkable team and be present in these moments.