Planning a team or company-wide retreat may sound like a daunting task. While it takes a lot of time (and energy) to organize, the payoff for holding a retreat will certainly make it worthwhile. Whether your team is virtual, in the office, or hybrid, you’ll benefit from a retreat that brings people together in a meaningful way. A well-designed retreat has the potential to boost morale, productivity, and trust among your team.
Now that you’re excited and ready to plan your retreat, it’s time to design this event for maximum impact. We’ve compiled a list of actionable steps to ensure your retreat goes off without a hitch!
1. Solicit input from the team
Before you dive headfirst into the planning process, make sure you understand what topics the team finds valuable. Sending out a pre-retreat survey is a great way to capture this information. From there, you can use the responses to guide the rest of your planning – from deciding on objectives to scheduling activities.
2. Determine objectives for your time together
Keep in mind the amount of time you’ve set aside for the retreat when you start thinking about your goals and objectives. While it might seem enticing to tackle all suggestions, remember to not over-commit your agenda. The retreat goals should be attainable during the timeframe you’re spending together. Nail down two or three clear objectives before working out the logistics to ensure a solid framework for team time. Retreats are special occasions set aside from typical work activities and the daily grind. Focus on retreat objectives that highlight the unique opportunity for team engagement, collaboration, and learning together.
3. Plan activities and exercises ahead of time
Use the objectives to decide on the specific engagement activities during the retreat. Make sure that every activity planned has a purpose – even if that purpose is to get to know each other better. Select a variety of activities to engage in: having discussions, brainstorming sessions, interactive components, and games or more lighthearted conversations. Align activities with your dedicated outcomes to ensure a successful retreat!
4. Hire an outside facilitator
Although it might be tempting to plan and facilitate the whole retreat by yourself, it may help to bring in a professional facilitator. An external facilitator can help emphasize your organization’s willingness to invest in the team’s time together. A professional facilitator will provide unbiased support and advice throughout the planning process and during the actual retreat. As an added bonus, they’ll offer a fresh perspective on topics and will know creative ways to solve problems, brainstorm new ideas, and pose questions you might’ve never thought of before. Plus, an external facilitator enables you—the leader—to be a fully engaged participant!
5. Develop a clear agenda
A detailed agenda is essential to a successful retreat. Provide everyone with a clear outline of the activities they’ll be engaging in and the duration of time allotted for each one. Write a brief description of each exercise and be sure to note who will lead that component. Make sure the agenda is finalized early enough to send it out to everyone at least a week in advance so they can show up prepared and ready to get to work.
6. Have fun!
Now that you’ve accomplished all the difficult planning pieces, you should be able to enjoy the retreat and all that it has to offer. Don’t forget to have fun and strengthen team connections while you’re together. This is an important aspect of retreats that has the potential the fly under the radar, so remember to have a good time!
7. Create actionable next steps
Remember that your work isn’t done after the retreat is over – actually, it has only just begun. You should leave the retreat with deliverables, action items, and next steps in mind. Be sure to identify who is responsible for each item and their respective deadlines. Communicate this clearly across the whole team so everyone has adequate support for their responsibilities. Set aside time at the next team meeting to give and receive feedback on the retreat and attend to next steps and deliverables.
What are you waiting for? Put your next team retreat on the calendar today and get ready to head into Q4 feeling more aligned and motivated!