Whether it’s that time of the year again—the time to plan the annual company retreat—or this is your first time creating an outing of this magnitude, planning is the key to success. No corporate retreat can be successful by just “winging it,” and while a bit of flexibility and surprise can be a good thing, it’s important to have your proverbial ducks in a row before booking a venue for your retreat.
It’s not just about when. Setting a date is the final step, but there are many important details to iron out beforehand. Don’t dive into the process without a proper plan. What does that include exactly?
Here are three things every company retreat needs to be a success.
#1: A Solidified Goal
What do you want to accomplish with your company retreat? Be precise. Be in depth. Many companies have the basic idea down—they want a strategic planning session; they need a leadership development retreat; they are looking for a team building or team bonding experience.
That’s not enough.
It’s time to get specific in your goals. If they are too open ended, your retreat won’t be as successful. You don’t have to plan and structure every minute of every day—leave some room for surprises and unexpected experiences—but you should know exactly what it is you want to accomplish over the course of your company retreat.
If you are looking for strategic planning, try one or more of these goals:
- Setting priorities and metrics for the year
- Finding your blue ocean strategy
- Defining your mission, vision, values, etc.
- Creating new budgets
- Forming teams/structuring your organization
- Identifying customers and audiences
Think about things that relate to your products/services, customers and markets, finances, team members, and the technology you use.
If you are looking for leadership development, try one or more of these goals:
- Training new managers, directors, executives
- Conflict management
- Learning to lead others
- Diversity and inclusion
- Adapting to change, challenges, etc.
- Improving emotional intelligence
- Leading by example/becoming a mentor
If you are looking for team building and team bonding, try one or more of these goals:
- Employee onboarding
- Team formation and introductions
- Overcoming challenges together
- Working more efficiently
- Role definitions
#2: A Dedicated Place
This is where we tell you to get out. Leave your office. Leave your city. Leave your county. Retreat is the name of the game, so take your team to a place of quiet, solitude, and isolation. Where you go is almost as important as what you do. Take your company retreat to a place that is not only free of distraction, but is also conducive to the type of mindset you need to be in.
Even if you decide to take your retreat to a resort, don’t limit yourself to the indoor areas. Get outside and see what the grounds look like. What types of outdoor spaces do they have there? What kinds of activities can they organize and host? What do they offer in terms of non-work-related activities (downtime is important in any retreat)? Look at their food menu. Look at their staff. Look at their lodging. Make sure the place you choose has everything you need. Once you’re there, you shouldn’t have to leave until you’ve accomplished your primary goals.
#3: A Trusted Facilitator
Don’t run your retreat on your own. Just don’t. You need to be a part of the process, not the one organizing it. That’s the job of a strategic planning or leadership development facilitator. These professionals know how to translate your goals into an agenda that can help you accomplish them. They understand the process. They understand your company. And they’ll grow to understand the needs of your team better than anyone else.
At Sugar Lake Lodge, we have a team of trusted facilitators that are the best in the business, but we’re happy to welcome outside facilitators brought in by your company. Whatever you choose to do, it’s in your company’s best interest to work with someone (or a team) that can help you achieve success.