Typical Retreat Activities and Tips
Some business owners may choose to be the main speaker at all the events, utilize senior staff or even hire an outside facilitator. An outside facilitator can often spot problem areas faster as they are disassociated with the company. If you can afford a facilitator—hire one.
Follow your agenda schedule as closely as possible so you have ample time to cover everything.
Next, here are some activities and tips you can include in the retreat:
Mind-Mapping Tools – Mind Maps are excellent visual tools that allow for content from retreat attendees as well as brainstorming sessions.
Role Playing – Also invaluable, role playing can be used in almost any situation with staff members changing roles from time to time and comparing thoughts and results.
Open Exchange – In retreat planning, businesses should include a time for open exchange discussions. These are best held at the end of each session with set time limits.
Questionnaires and Surveys – Retreats are a great time to utilize tools such as questionnaires and surveys as long as they are focused on the purpose of the retreat. A facilitator can analyze results and discuss findings.
Entertainment and Downtime – No employee will ever want to attend a future retreat if all they have time for is meeting after meeting. Sitting down for long periods of time can make for yawning and disinterest. Plan some sort of activity that is relaxing—you may even ask the venue to help with this. Don't forget appropriate short breaks.
Retreat Follow-Up – Whether it’s the facilitator or the main retreat speaker(s), a written retreat follow-up is important. You can deliver the results and findings of the retreat via interoffice e-mails or a full-blown written handout. Either way, this essentially wraps up the retreat in a synopsis form allowing attendees to stay focused on what has been learned.
When retreat planning, business owners should take the time to follow the appropriate steps to gain the most from a retreat and avoid turning it into a free for all where nothing is accomplished.