After a year of burying our heads in our daily tasks and responsibilities amidst the negative vibes from around the world, the Gapturions finally got a chance to spend some quality time together under one big roof at our annual retreat to The Acacia.
The Acacia Retreat is subtly hidden at the edge of a forest located at KM70 along the Karak Highway in Bentong, Pahang. From the moment we arrived, we were immediately submerged in the sound, sight and smell of nature.
Thus began our exercise-packed retreat. After a cooling welcome drink from the resort, we headed to our little gazebo for the ice breaking exercise of the retreat called 'Guess the Lie'. Every Gapturion was asked to think of three statements about themselves – two true and once false. All three statements should be things that no other Gapturion knows about. Each of us took turn and we went on to guess which of the three statements was a lie. This truly was a great ice breaking exercise as we immediately learned at least two things we didn't know about each other!
Shortly after that we adjourned to the resort's restaurant for a hearty lunch. Every meal we had at the retreat was accompanied by a Communication Starter to keep good conversations going. The Gapturion in charge will read out questions from a stack of cards for each of us to contribute our answers. Oftentimes, the Gapturions would get so carried away by each other's answers and comments that the conversations ended up far from where we began.
After lunch, we went back to the gazebo to talk about each of our personal top ten achievements of 2016. This exercise was an insight to how the Gapturions look at life - where little accomplishments were cherished as well as the bigger ones.
Then, back in the much appreciated air conditioned mansion, there was the Y2016 Reviews by Gapture's CEO - Stanley Chee, Head of UX Design - Fairoz Hassan and Head of Performance Team - Amirul Faisyal. These were thorough presentations of the hit and miss in the previous year.
Two hours of cold air later, we had a lovely tea break by the mirky pond on our patio in the company (armies) of flies and fire ants. We have never paid as much attention to our food as we did during our meals at The Acacia.
With our faces stuffed with food, we continued with the next exercise called 'Listening Skills'. It was another self-reflecting exercise where we each filled out a short questionnaire on how we react and respond during our conversations with others. Some of us turn out to be very patient and empathetic listeners while some are just plain judgemental and horrible human beings. Haha!
We took a short break after the exercise and it was already getting dark. All of us were excited about the barbecue dinner that was waiting for us by the pool. There were barbecued chicken, beef, lamb, sausages, squid rings; deep fried wantons, fried noodles, fried rice and even dessert. It was truly a feast!
The last exercise of the first day was 'Unscrupulous!'. The person in charge would read out a sticky situation, followed by an action that might be taken by the chosen Gapturion. The rest of us had to judge that Gapturion's humanity and say whether or not the right action would be taken - by answering Yes or No. At this point we'd have spent enough time together to guess what we might do. This was when we knew that each Gapturion was more than meets the eye.
The next morning, we woke up early for breakfast as we had a long day ahead of us.
The first exercise after day two was 'Creativity Objectives'. The Gapturions were given a messy scenario at work and were asked to brainstorm within their groups for solutions. One group came up with a single detailed and technical solution while the other came up with a few fun yet practical solutions.
After the fun exercise, we moved on to the heavy stuff. First, it was 'Start, Stop, Continue', where we listed down all the things that we should start, stop and continue doing at Gapture. Then, 'Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat' was also another brainstorming and listing exercise. We successfully identified Gapture's strengths and weaknesses, along with the opportunities that we should grasp as well as the threats that we have to overcome.
These two exercises were so intense that lunch came just in time to rescue our brains from completely frying up.
We recharged ourselves and moved on to the last heavy exercise of the day - establishing the priorities and KPIs for the year. It's motivating to see that on day two of the retreat, we have successfully set our goals and changes that we'd want to achieve in 2017. These are actions that would help improve performance in Gapture and make Gapture a more environmental friendly company.
At this point, we were pretty much spent and wanted to have nothing to do with work anymore. Thank goodness it was tea break again and the next exercise was 'Embarrassing Moment'. As the name suggested, this was going to be quite entertaining.
This exercise lasted longer than we'd expected but we weren't complaining. As this was when all the embarrassing moments involving unintentional theft, secret affairs, falling in public places and uncontrollable bowel movements on a bus came to light.
At the mercy of our boss, we were given a couple of hours to relax before dinner. We went around the retreat to explore the other unique types of accommodation.
The last exercise of day two was 'Balance Wheel' - yet another self-reflective exercise. Through rating each aspect of our own working and personal lives, we discovered how unbalanced they were. This eventually led to a deep heart-to-heart sharing of life stories, philosophies and lessons learned amongst the Gapturions.
Last day of the retreat!
After a simple buffet breakfast, we headed out into the morning sun for some treasure hunting. Two groups of Gapturions we given a list of riddles, each answer lead to a hidden item in the foliage surrounding the swimming pool area. Kudos to the person in charge for this light-hearted exercise - it's not everyday that you'd get to pluck a packet of Nescafe out of a fruit tree!
When we were all charged up in the sun, we moved indoors for a final presentation by our CEO on Gapture's KPIs and things to look ahead to in the year 2017.
This was followed by the last exercise of the retreat called 'Appreciation'. The Gapturions wrote their names on an empty piece of paper each, and then passed it around for everyone to write a note of appreciation. Each of us left the room with a piece of paper filled with heart-warming thank you messages and praises.
After savouring our last meal at The Acacia, the Gapturions parted ways and headed back into their own caves. According to Amirul, our Head of Performance Team, this was the best Gapturion Retreat he's attended so far. It was all thanks to the team effort and enthusiasm of each Gapturion that this retreat was a big success.
A big thank you to our CEO, Stanley, for making this an annual Gapturion event. We drove away well-fed, well-laughed, well-informed and well-prepared for the year.
But most important of all, we had fun.
Now, time to shake those ants out of our luggage, hair and laptop.
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