As a manager, group effectiveness is probably very high on your priorities. Because of this, you may be tempted to push your team to its limits. But recent thinking suggests that taking a step back from operational matters and day to day activities may be the way to optimize your team’s performance. In this article, we explore why successful leaders choose to retreat and offer their teams time to think about their strategy, their learnings, their missions and how to achieve them. 

Taking a Step Back Is Part of Every Natural Cycle 

Humans, and most all species, instinctively pause to recover and assess as their environment changes. Organizations are no different. For an organization to survive, its rate of learning must be at least at the rate of change of its external environment. And for learning to happen, reflection on that change is key. Change and reflection must both be present or learning does not happen.  

Corporate team leaders often push hard to deliver results in fast-paced environments. Writing for Forbes, leadership coach Kevin Cashman laments the 24/7-culture, “We’re continually contactable and hell-bent on driving forward. This culture appears to dominate business nowadays.” Economic Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kahneman, in his book, Thinking: Fast and Slow, outlines the two main approaches to business. In one approach, you proceed fast, intuitively, and emotionally, while the second approach is more deliberate, slower, and based on logical thinking. 

As humans, we have the capacity to reflect and rethink, but our “go-go-go environments” don’t always allow us the time to do it.  You must ask yourself….is it time for your team to take a “time out”? 

The Benefit of Collective Retreats for Group Effectiveness

So, how does taking a step back and hitting the pause button benefit your team? For a start, doing so allows management and teams to evaluate the current strategy. During this assessment, strengths and weaknesses become apparent, and adjustments can be made. This can also be the perfect opportunity to evaluate whether your development priorities match with your business priorities. 

Taking a step back will facilitate a fine-tuning and optimization process. What’s more, during a pause, team members can make creative contributions, exchange ideas, and strengthen the team spirit while improving team performance.  

It may appear to be a contradiction, but pausing is likely to make teams more successfully and productively move forward. In addition, team members will be more willing to make a valuable, solid contribution when management demonstrates a more thought-out, slower, logical, and more deliberate approach of inserting regular retreats.  

Short-Term Profit Goals Prevent Business from Taking Fruitful Pauses 

Striving for short-term profit is a common goal among all business types, including private enterprises, publicly owned companies, and non-publicly listed companies. And, understandably so. The danger is that management teams lose sight of long-term strategies, best-practice procedures, market changes and competitive moves.  And, management can also be blind to any source of friction within the team preventing strong team dynamics to prevail. These all might be impacting the overall business results if not “built-in” to the way organizations operate.  

For these reasons, inserting regular collective retreats where your team can pause and reflect on actions is crucial, even if it appears counter-intuitive. As David​ ​B.​ ​Peterson, Director, Executive Coaching & Leadership at Google says, “If you are too busy to reflect – just start with one minute a day.”  

Yes, getting into this habit of pause will put you in a whole new trajectory, for yourself and your organization. And there’s no better time to start than in a new year. 

Let’s continue the dialogue so we can help your team pause and reflect on what they are doing well, and how they can improve.  Reach out to us today to set yourself up for improved group effectiveness. Contact us at 

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