Projects, deadlines, sales calls, accounts payable, collections, team issues, facility issues, etc., etc., etc. It is easy to get caught up in the details of running business and forget about the people who make it run. When there are big projects, it’s easy to focus your energy working on getting the job done and forget to enjoy the people you are working with.

When that happens, even the happiest, most productive of teams start to rub a little. As a manager, if you are paying attention you will notice a slip in productivity, maybe a little bit more tension directed at each other or at clients. When that starts to happen, you are overdue for a creative break.

When I ran a corporate team, it was easy to take a few hours off. The truth is, no one really knew we were gone. That’s not the case in a small business, so it takes a little more planning, but it’s always worth it.

Thinking about taking your team out for a little creative renewal? Here a few simple dos and don’ts for your next creative renewal outing:

  1. Give people advance notice. It’s no fun to take an afternoon off if you know you are going to have to work well into the evening to finish a project. Set a date a few weeks in advance to people can notify clients, schedule around the event and really feel good about taking the time off.
  2. Pick something everyone will enjoy. One of my former bosses loved to play golf. So as a reward for finishing a big project, he took me and my entire team golfing. Great, except I hate golf. A day which was supposed to be a reward wasn’t.
  3. Look for something they might not do on their own. Life gets busy. There are lots of things we wish we had time to do; go to a play or the opening of an art exhibit, maybe play a round of golf (I wouldn’t be happy, there are people who would find this a real treat). Being able to do “that thing” on work time makes it feel extra special.
  4. It doesn’t have to be expensive. One summer we decided to introduce some of our team members to a range of ethnic foods. Our adventures in dining were a short intermission in a busy season.
  5. Create tangible memories. Look for opportunities to take group photos or video or make something which people will look at again and again when they return to work. The small souvenirs keep the memories fresh until the next outing.

At Roundpeg, we don’t have a specific schedule for creative renewal; our breaks just always seem to come at the right time. Each outing allows us to talk, laugh and build some shared memories.

Beyond what the outing does for the team as a whole, there is an individual benefit too. When you are working really hard on a project and the solution eludes you, the best thing you can do is walk away. As you focus your attention on something entirely different, your brain is still working on the problem in the background. When you come back, it is easier to see things you didn’t see before.

The projects, the deadlines, the mini-crises will all still there. Take time to do something to entertain and inspire and the solutions will be easier too.