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Break Time

Refocus your employees with a company retreat.

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This story appears in the August 1997 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Rapidly growing GoldMine Software Corp. had a problem: The success of the company's contact management software had bred its own difficulties. GoldMine's performance had been stellar--revenues had been doubling every year--but "we were going through growing pains," says Brenda Christensen, human resources director for the 70-employee company. "So many people on staff were newly hired, we started seeing internal communications problems. Plus, we [were] so busy putting out day-to-day fires, there was a lack of focus on the big picture."

So the Pacific Palisades, California, company took a step more businesses are taking when they face tough problems: "We held an off-site retreat. Every employee was invited; about 35 of our 50 [people] on staff at the time went," says Christensen, who adds that attendance was optional for nonmanagement personnel. The weekend retreat--held on nearby Catalina Island--featured some leisure time, but "we worked hard on improving communications. One night, for instance, we all sat on the beach and, one by one, talked about what we liked about the company, what we didn't like, and what changes we wanted to see," says Christensen. In the meantime, management used the retreat to give employees insight into the company's mission and goals.

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