We have all attended the annual off-site the HR Department arranges for us. That ‘corporate retreat’ where we unwind in a fancy resort, exchange pleasantries with one another, play some games over unlimited food (and alcohol) and discuss business in between!
In most cases, the off-site ends on a crescendo where each of us vow to turn over a new leaf at the workplace. For some it would be being a better team player while for others it could be being a better listener. We all tell our motivated selves that we will do what it takes to make this change happen. We remind ourselves of how it’s all so simple…until we are back at the workplace where the change is supposed to happen.
All of a sudden, we are confronted by deadlines and lured by targets. The effort needed to change who you are doesn’t seem worth the investment anymore. In less than a week after the off-site, you are back to being your usual self.
If you have ever felt this way, you aren’t alone in this battle. There are a whole lot of us who understand the importance of being our “off-site” selves but there are very few of us who actually change.
With companies investing so heavily in off-sites, what’s the missing piece in this puzzle? Like Marshall Goldsmith asks in his latest bestseller ‘Triggers’, why is it so hard for you to be the person you want to be?
It is probably because of one of these excuses you tell yourself:
1. Any off-site is planned in a manner that makes you go out of your comfort zone and learn something new about yourself. However, it’s not the same at work.
Tip: If the off-site was like life at work, you wouldn’t have an off-site! Going out of your office setting is crucial because it gives you a new perspective on things you come across in your daily routine.
If you find it difficult to understand what to take away from an off-site activity to your working style, you should approach the facilitator during the off-site. You could even walk up to the HR Team that has organized the off-site and ask them why certain activities were executed.
2. We all went for the off-site. Why should I be the one changing?!
Tip: If each person asked themselves that, no one would change! The probability of your colleague changing is not in your control. The probability of you changing, is!
Nobody might have walked up to you and told you why or how you need to change. This is probably because the working style of your team does not expect you to be that way. So if anything about the off-site has made you question something about yourself, mull over it. Muster the courage to walk up to a colleague to get their feedback.
Your drive to change and make a difference might just inspire others in your team to undertake this journey too!
3. My decision to change will not make a difference. The team I work with, the work I do and the office environment will remain the same.
Tip: If you have felt it’s harder to change after an off-site because your organization never follows up, you are right. Not having somebody in the organization who makes sure you are applying what you have learnt is essential. Other factors such as a discouraging manager or a hostile work environment might hamper your transfer of training as well.
However, this is only one side of the coin. If you are the participant at the off-site, it is your responsibility to apply what you have learnt as well. Your team members are not going to change overnight and the work environment is going to remain the same as well. These cannot be your excuses to postpone changing your habits at work.
The above three excuses place the participant (in this case, you!) at fault. Suddenly, you are the one being blamed for all of this. On the onset, this might seem a bit unfair. You see, there are very few of us who are likely to admit we have made these (or similar) excuses in the past. Till then, allow us to do it for you!
We understand that change isn’t easy. But if you don’t take ownership for it, no one will. So, the next time you step out of an off-site, you need to make a decision. A decision to be the person you know you should be!