Impact and Innovation through bringing people together: A competency away day
Hybrid working and client commitments had meant that there had been few occasions over the last 2 years in which everyone in the competency had been in the same place at the same time. We decided to address this and recently brought everyone together at a competency away day and we found the experience extremely useful for many reasons.
The away day featured everything from competitive building of marshmallow towers, an industry speaker on the latest insights, a brain tingling team exercise, to some time to decompress and share honest thoughts.
It was a fun and powerful way to promote team bonding and collaboration. No matter how good we are at Teams meetings, nothing is better at fostering relationships and getting to know one another than face to face. It created the space to open up our minds and consider topics and issueswe don’t usually get time to do. It was a great way to evaluate our team’s strengths and opportunities for development, as well as how we can positively impact the company, with a view to creating a clear plan for where we focus our efforts. This clarity and alignment ultimately make the individual, team, and business more successful.
We came away from the day energised and motivated. When brought together it became clear that we are greater than the sum of our parts and taking time away from the day job to invest in ourselves and our relationships helped make the competency more empowered and forward-thinking
We would recommend a competency away day for all teams within our organization due to the benefits it offers. This blog is going to discuss what we learned and how It is possible to tailor your competency away day to map the issues and opportunities that are important to you and your team.
Focusing the away day on something specific is how you make it work. Prior to the day you should come up with a clear rationale and ensure that everyone who is attending knows what they are discussing. This could be more high-level and open such as to understand each others strengths, or develop a plan for future growth. This could also be more specific, an issue your team is facing, or an opportunity that you want to go after but don’t know how. Having a clear objective will ensure everyone shows up in the right frame of mind and ready to contribute. It will also ensure that the conversations are productive and structured so that you end the day with something tangible to move forward and the time spent will feel well used. By doing this you are going to be able to elicit a strong commitment from everyone involved.
A competency away day can be used to remind your team that they are working together, that their success is everyone’s success. Ensuring everyone understands and is committed to the competency’s priorities will help to align everyone on what they need to do to achieve those goals and be clear of the value they are adding. Through the conversations it is important that the team is open, honest, and communicative so that no one is isolated or working towards a separate agenda.
We can often get siloed or only focus on what is happening in our own day to day worklife. A competency away day enables you to provide wider business context and highlight how your team sits within the overall company strategy. This can be an important element to land as it may help wider communication between teams or identify further client opportunities. Raising awareness can help the team feel more involved and engaged, it can showcase best practice, and support the team in developing better insights and ways of doing things to support the overall company. No competency should work in isolation, raising awareness is a way of showing your team where they are in the machine and how they can add value.
Never underestimate the power of the environment to change the way people think. It is easier to discuss topics or address issues in a more constructive manner when you are in a new, or different environment. Due to the fact that a competency away day takes the team away from their laptops and normal working routines, it creates a relaxed and safe space to identify issues or discuss ideas freely. By changing the scene, you are allowing for more constructive conversations and more thinking outside the box, which is what some issues desperately need.
Collaborate and connect
One of the huge advantages of a competency away day is that it helps you collaborate and build deeper relationships in your team. During the normal working day, certain team members may not speak much or have the time or energy to build a rapport. The away day should balance both work related and non-work related activities so that people are brought together to problem-solve, discuss, open up, and even laugh. It should also be structured in a way so that everyone can participate equally and openly. You want to allow people to see who they gel with and learn who brings a new perspective that they are interested in. Bringing the team together encourages conversation and helps to break down some of the barriers between people that slow down performance and even hinder it. A competency away day has the power to initiate conversation, help everyone understand each other better, and build relationships so that everyone can see the true value of the team.
Reflect and recognise
Taking time to ponder on how you work well within a competency and what areas need improvement gives colleagues the chance to have their voices heard. Transparency increases trust and allows everyone to have a say, from associate level consultants to leads. Conducting a retrospective is one way of eliciting honest views to take a step back to reflect and to bring out goals for a team to develop in.
Acknowledgement is another element to be considered, a time to gather feedback and recognise colleagues for their contributions demostrates that efforts do not go unnoticed, with less in person interaction, it’s meaningful to communicate a job well done, whether that’s an outstanding project contribution or taking the time to support another colleague. Appreciation results a sense of belonging and an increased level of wellbeing enhancing performance and motivation.
If you are looking for ways to improve your team performance or impact, build relationships and open the channels of communication, find new ways of working, raise awareness about issues or opportunities, and help your team members feel more a part of a community you should invest time and resources into a competency away day. Getting together is the perfect opportunity to discover more about the individual members of your team, foster colleagueship and collaboration and encourage problem solving and ideation. Ultimately investing time and money this way will help you unleash the potential of your team, and this will enable you to deliver better business outcomes for everyone.