As a team of eight, we work closely together at Marshall Financial Group. But, like most offices, we experienced a disruption in our day-to-day work with the COVID-19 pandemic. This spring and summer, we have been physically disconnected. We knew we needed to reconnect as a team, and even though we’d never been on a company retreat, we thought it might be just what we needed.
On August 21, River Valley Ranch hosted us for a corporate retreat that combined the nostalgia of summer camp and a beautiful location with team building exercises that ended up teaching us how we can thrive together. Here are three things we learned from the retreat.
Even When Things are Busy, It’s Worth It To Take Time Off
The first thing that our President Pete Marshall thought when we discussed the idea of a company retreat was, “Oh man, we are doing this now?” With a lot of work to do, he thought, “Why are we taking off a day to go horseback riding?” In a world of keeping an eye on markets, connecting with clients, and managing the day-to-day work, taking time off for anything can seem hard to do at best, a little frivolous at worst.
Once the retreat started, Pete realized this was actually the perfect time for everyone in the office to get together. Because of the pandemic, some people were working from home, while others were at the office. “We did lose touch a little bit, and the retreat brought us back together, it brought back the great working vibe that we’ve had,” he realized.
Our Client Service and Operations Specialist Lisa Pezzella also thought taking time out of the office now helped emphasize our office culture. “We are a close group – partly because of the size of our office but also because we all just get along so well. I felt like the retreat bonded us on an even deeper level,” she says.
New Challenges Help Us Learn and Grow
In normal times, River Valley Ranch focuses on providing a nondenominational Christian summer camp for kids and our day featured some very camp-like experiences, like zip-lining, horseback riding, and hiking. They also had us go through a maze as a team-building exercise. We had to make our way out of the maze using only left-handed turns. This helped us realize that we can learn and grow from each other. “By your co-worker’s experience ahead of you, you learn where to turn,” says our VP of Administration and Marketing, Lindy Marshall. It was interesting to see each person’s approach to a challenge in real time. “We got to see how someone reacts when there’s a problem – what angle they approach it from, whether they look at the big picture or just the next steps” she adds.
In the office, we have to work as a team, and this exercise helped us realize the strength of our team. “Solving the maze reminded me how important each member of this team really is,” says our Client Relationship Liaison Holly Bergen. “We learn and grow off each other and thrive as a whole.”
A New Setting Helps You Learn More About Your Colleagues
Located next to the Gunpowder Falls in Carroll County, Maryland, River Valley Ranch is beautiful, and getting out of the office helped us not only relax and have fun, but we learned more about each other. Together with a partner, we had to answer questions that made us think and learn about each other. We also shared what we respect and admire about someone else on the team. “That was really great,” says Lindy. “Every group ended up sharing, and we went around the table and talked about how much we respect and admire each member of the team.” While at the office, we might know the strength of one particular colleague, here, we got to share that with everyone. “Everybody genuinely had a role and a strength that was mentioned during this part of the retreat,” says Pete. One of our Financial Advisors Brad Clough adds, “The activities they had us do really made it so I could see my colleagues in a different way that brought us closer together.”
Our team left after a fun day feeling energized, thankful for our co-workers, and more bonded to each other. We know we’ll be doing it again.