For the last 3 years I have been working closely with an alliance management team who are working on a large project. During our time together I have delivered several on-site workshops that focused on setting up the team for success. The goal is for them to become a high performing team. With that in mind we have worked through things such as role clarity, gaining alignment and building trust. Trust = speed in any management team.
When I first started working with the team I felt that working through these items made some progress, however I still felt that something was not clicking within the team. Trust was low and there was a lack of focus on what mattered most. Increasing demands on the team’s time and energy was having a negative impact on their ability to work as united leaders. They had developed a culture that was reactive and scattered – a far cry from the high performing team they were aspiring to be. Something had to give. The team needed to move from reactive to proactive, from scattered to focused, from chaotic to high performance! We chose to address the issue through an offsite ‘retreat’ to realign the team and get them for a couple of days. Although I was a little sceptical at first that a change in environment could really deliver the shift in mindset that was required, the retreat was an extraordinary success and team engagement over the two days was outstanding. It allowed us to slow down and for everyone to really stop and reflect on the situation and what needed to be done, rather than being surrounded by busy schedules and chaos. Issues were acknowledged, sacred cows were exposed and clear strategies for improvement were committed to.
During the two days away it was not only the group work, but also the social activities throughout the entire retreat that really contributed to the team’s ability to get to know each other and connect. Relationships were built and trust was established. I am certain this deep level of engagement and commitment would not have occurred onsite where distractions can take precedence. The conclusion we all had at the end of the retreat was that we should have done it sooner! We have been taking several retreats a year ever since and each one has been an outstanding success.
This lesson can similarly be applied to consultants looking to build your own consulting practice, either individually or as a team. Building or growing a successful business is not an easy task by any means particularly in a day and age like today when business moves faster than ever, and it can be quite daunting to consider the number of challenges, complexities and uncertainties that may present themselves when you are establishing yourself as a consultant. When you combine the uncertainty, the challenges, the complexities and the chaos that is present in many people’s lives today, even the toughest amongst us may fall.
Taking the time out is critical to slow down, stop, reflect and consider the issues allows you to become empowered and gain clarity and control over the situation. Removing the elements of chaos and busyness allows the road ahead to come into focus – you will be able to really get to know and connect with your fellow team members without the external pressures of everyday life, see where your energies should be directed, clearly work out strategies to meet challenges and the journey towards achieving your objectives will appear much less daunting. Taking the time out, as an individual or as team is critical! Here’s your challenge – slow down to build trust with yourself and your team. If done properly it will speed up performance and outputs.