January is the month of Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings, gates, and transitions. If there were ever a month to plan a leadership retreat aimed at refreshing your firm, then, this is it. Executive team building retreats are like nitrous oxide for an engine: a power boost if used properly, and a liability if not. Ensure yours is the former instead of the latter by taking the following five steps:
Turbo-Charge Your Firm: How to Plan a Retreat in Five Steps
1. Get Out of the Office
The best leadership retreats are scheduled off-site. Yes, this costs money. Yes, it is worth it. Getting everyone out of the office and into, say, a nice hotel boardroom is an investment in the success of your event. Stepping outside of the box energizes attendees to think outside of the box—and this, of course, is the whole point. If your retreat doesn’t generate fresh ideas, you’re wasting everyone’s time. On the other hand, if it does, your investment will be worth every penny.
2. Make It a Quarterly Event
When executive team building retreats fail, lack of follow-up is most often to blame. A standalone, isolated event is about as effective as hitting the gym once a year. No matter how well-planned, retreats—like workouts—need to be habitual to initiate change. This means not only hosting a check-in 30 days after your event, but also planning a retreat each quarter with the aim of building lasting momentum.
3. Choose the Right Facilitator (Hint: It’s Not You)
If you’re the owner of your firm, you’re the wrong person to run your retreat. Placing your Director of Operations, Chief Operations Officer, Client Service Coordinator, or other well-positioned team member in charge facilitates the creation of an atmosphere where team members are more likely to feel secure voicing honest opinions about what needs to change. What’s more, placing yourself in a listening role allows you, too, to gain new insight into what may spark productive growth at your firm.
4. Get Granular
Just because you’re not running the show, doesn’t mean you don’t get a say in the agenda. As you work with your facilitator to plan, ensure that a specific obstacle or strategic decision sits at the center of your retreat. If your team is well-aligned and retreats are run quarterly, general goals and objectives should take no more than an hour to cover. The rest of your time should be dedicated to getting granular, and addressing a complex single issue.
5. Go Analog
Get the most out of your leadership retreat by eliminating distractions. Ban phones and laptops and leave a message on your firm’s voicemail letting clients know that you’re at an internal planning retreat. Not only will the special focus created by an analog space ensure you get the most out of the time invested, but it will also enhance the sense that your retreat is precisely that—a retreat.
To learn more about how best to plan a retreat—or to address any other issue related to accelerating your firm to new levels of success in 2022—do not hesitate to book a call with me, Hiring & Empowering founder and best-selling author, Molly McGrath.