Treat of a Retreat (Conclusion)

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Diana Vollmer |

Build key activities around the primary purpose of the event

SAN FRANCISCO — Summertime leads to visions of getting away from the daily predictability of work and the probably of relaxing mind and body with family and friends.

These daydreams are most likely vacation-inspired, but the importance of a break from work routine is also valuable for making a company revive and recharge. Those longing brainwaves that cannot all be directed to paid time off can be positively redirected to a re-energizing company management retreat.

The echoes of “waste of time and money” are coming through loud and clear as you read this introduction. But please have a little forbearance and reconsider the benefits to you of a well-planned and -executed retreat.

They need not be extravagant, rowdy or expensive, and can be tremendously beneficial to making your business and people thrive.

VENUE

A relaxing warm-weather location can be perfect, if it has a mix of quiet working space that incorporates the physical benefits of the locale and business tools to make your time together productive.

For example, a pool deck can be great for social events and breaks, but the working sessions need more solitude and less distraction. Always provide for food, fun and creativity to invigorate the participation.

Local sites are convenient and less expensive for travel but need to be isolated enough that participants don’t travel back and forth to the plant or stores during the event.

TIMING

If your goal is intensive planning and social interaction, the combination takes more time commitment than a very dedicated, intense, single project session. Accomplishing the combination of social interaction and a business purpose ideally takes a minimum of three days, not including travel time, especially if non-associate guests are included. For multi-day events, schedule some personal, quiet re-charge time since a 24/7 group can be overwhelming.

Any off-site event should have at least one day away to accomplish even the most rudimentary plan.

ACTIVITIES

Key activities should be built around the primary purpose of the event. If multiple agenda items might be misinterpreted, make it clear which activities are voluntary and which are mandatory.

If the goal is celebration and team-building for the entire company, mix associates from different departments so they don’t stay in their own daily peer group.

Combine simple, proven, interactive casual group-appropriate activities like hamburger grilling, Frisbee, softball, bowling, or trivia, with more directed activities such as simple personality tests and group discussions about the results; for examples of ideas, see www.proformative.com/career-insights.

CAUTION

Unless your entire team is physically fit and oriented to extreme sports, exceptionally physical activities, such as trust falls from a high platform, can be highly intimidating and possibly result in unwanted outcomes like alienation from the team and/or departure from the company.

TALK IT

Keep everyone informed and updated before, during, and after the event. If you don’t already use an inter-company communication app, try one for this purpose. Set expectations that reduce the fear of the unknown that often accompanies unfamiliar activities.

Always avoid shutting down ideas with comments like, “We tried that, and it didn’t work.” Maybe the concept can be successful with minor tweaks, revisions, or just the passage of time.

A successful retreat can provide you a happier, more cooperative, supportive, and effective team that is better prepared to make your company succeed.

To read Part 1, go HERE.

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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