Planning events and retreats is a common task for most business leaders. Taking time to focus on long-term planning, goals and strategies is an ordinary and necessary part of the fiscal year. What may not be so common is using these retreats and planning sessions to form strong bonds within your team and create a level of trust and vulnerability that you can bring back to the workplace.
Below is a list of suggestions on how to make your next retreat unmistakable. These activities and suggestions will help prepare your team for honest and open planning sessions and will improve the level of participation, input and engagement during your events.
- Meet offsite. Avoid the normal distractions of your office by moving the retreat to another, more peaceful space. Consider a large home rental instead of a conference center or hotel to encourage a more relaxed atmosphere—think couches over conference tables.
- Prepare a meal together. Cooking together creates a situation where everybody depends on one another. This serves as a team-building exercise disguised as a necessary task—everyone has to eat, after all! Cooking together also creates a setting for unstructured conversation, easing the group into the more serious structured conversation to come.
- Create a shared, memorable experience. Do something that is distinctly different than the typical day-to-day meeting. Consider a physical activity or challenge, or complete a community service project together. Alternatively, you could bring in a speaker or share a meaningful TED talk to teach the group something new that is indirectly connected to their work.
- Get personal and connect at a human level. Hold an activity where people are encouraged to share something important to them outside of the workplace or part of their past. This opens the door for real, personal connections to be made.
- Set the level of vulnerability. As the leader, you should go first in any activity to set the level of sharing through your response. Your team will follow your lead, and when you take your armor off, others will be more likely to follow suit.
Reach out to us if you’d like to discuss retreat ideas and options. We’re here to help!