For the entirety of my working career up until last Friday (albeit still in its early stages), I have never had the opportunity to take part in a company away day.
Of course, there have been plenty of nights down the pub, afternoons out and extravagant Christmas parties. But there has never been a suitable occasion to step back and review the relationships and dynamics of the teams I have been part of.
Considering the amount of time we spend with our colleagues – more than family and friends in many cases – surely ensuring we get along is incredibly important?
I can understand why some business leaders may not want to spend money on what may seem like a ‘jolly’ in the current economic climate. But can companies really afford not to invest in team building and organisational development at a time when differentiation and clear goals are the key to success? It’s vital that teams are working creatively, dynamically and above all, collaboratively.
Last Friday, the Dogs took a trip to the beautiful Ridgeview Vineyard in Hassocks. Rest assured, Ridgeview was not chosen just for the opportunity to taste sparkling wine but because – like Man Bites Dog – it is a multi award-winning venture in the heart of East Sussex that is competing on an international scale. The day wasn’t solely about team building. It was also about everyone having the opportunity to share their opinion on how the company is run, in an equal, honest and non-judgemental environment.
Mardi Roberts, Ridgeview’s Marketing and Sales Manager, settled us into a meeting room with a glorious view of the vineyard and surrounding countryside. Facilitated by our very own work and life coach, Kurt (Pavlov) Rowe, we spent the day taking an in-depth look at our behaviours in the office, our hopes and aspirations for the company and our achievements over the past year, as well as a number of bonding exercises.
Sceptics may question the value of such ‘away days’. As a newbie to the Man Bites Dog team, I haven’t had much time to get to know many of my colleagues in a social situation, but that’s now changed. Our day at Ridgeview gave me the opportunity to spend quality time with the whole team in a relaxed setting, which meant I went home with a sense of confidence and solidarity.
It also left me with the clear belief that team building and company-wide involvement in business strategy is invaluable. Firms should create as many opportunities as possible for teams to interact with one another and have their say on the company’s broader vision and mission – an investment that can only reap rewards.