Treat of a Retreat (Part 1)

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Diana Vollmer |

Summertime, take your team, and away you go

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.

Benefits include increased productivity as a team; improved morale; better understanding and cooperation between departments; integrating remote workers into the team; and comfortable interaction between associates.

GOAL

As in most endeavors, clearly thought-out goals add to the ultimate success, and the scheduling should be far enough in advance to let everyone plan for the time away. Consider both business and personal needs before choosing weekdays or weekends.

Although they have many things in common, “reward” retreats are very different from “planning” or “project specific” off-site getaways.

Commonalities include a change of venue removed from the daily business environment of ringing phones, on-call texts, customer demands, etc. The environmental change alone provides a fresh perspective that can make room for innovative ideas to apply to opportunities and creativity to find better solutions to issues and challenges.

It can also reinvigorate the body and psyche and generally boost morale. Another important unifying factor is to relax and have some fun, so participants enjoy the experience and come away with positive memories of the time away.

Specifics that will likely differ by retreat type are venue; agenda; working/relaxing ratio; focus of group sessions; and depth of commitment to participant contribution in time, preparation and interactive energy. The group composition will also vary depending upon the getaway purpose.

A team-building activity may be different than a reward for best performers. A planning session will be more focused and preparation-intense than a company-wide field trip to an amusement park.

Rewards are more likely to include non-associate guests, but warm weather retreats may have simultaneous working sessions and entertainment for non-associates with the two merging for social events.

Since mid-year is a good time to assess progress on current business goals and refine them to get ahead of the rushed planning cycle for the next year, summer is appropriate timing for your planning off-site.

BUDGET

Low-cost alternatives include public spaces that can be reserved for privacy, such as a park pavilion, school gymnasium or cafeteria, movie theater, and temporary office-sharing spaces. Use your imagination to make it memorable and unique.

The other end of the cost spectrum is easier to plan but be certain it provides the components that will meet the needs of your business purpose. For example, if videos are a necessary element, the great outdoors are less likely to be appropriate.

A mid-range alternative could be a short, all-inclusive cruise if you are near a port. This option offers built-in meals, and entertainment and can be surprisingly affordable.

Food trucks are a relatively inexpensive alternative for catering and add a component of fun. A group “cook” like a chili cook-off or “build the best taco” contest can satisfy hunger, build teamwork, create competition and bring out creativity and personality.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

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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