How to Plan a Corporate Leadership Retreat

Published on May 5, 2020

Planning a corporate leadership retreat can be difficult. Bringing together participants alone can be a challenge already. Corporate retreats provide participants with an opportunity to come together, put away distractions, and focus on opportunities to succeed. If you have been tasked to plan for your next corporate leadership retreat, here are seven tips to ensure the success of your event.

Plan Well In Advance

First of all, you need to determine your goal for the retreat and the desired outcome. This will help establish the theme. Timing is essential when booking a venue, facilitator, and recreational activities. The earlier you plan, the more options you will find, and the better the price will be.

Choose an environment that will be conducive to the purpose of the event. You can book a hotel or off-site locations as long as they are convenient to the participants and away from daily interruptions.

Ensure A Full Agenda

Keep in mind that employees or executives will be sacrificing personal and family time to attend the retreat. For this reason, you want to make sure that you have a full agenda and less amount of “free time.” Start with the wake-up time and fill it up with activities until the end of the day.

In creating the plan, you want to ensure that the participants are exhausted yet invigorated and inspired. You can include optional activities such as golfing, fishing, spa treatments, and winery visits either at the beginning or end of the day to ensure that the participants are fully engaged throughout the retreat. The important thing is that all the activities should be geared towards achieving the desired outcome

Provide A Variety

When planning the activities, think about putting variety into them. Surely, no one would want to sit in the conference room the whole day. Combine thinking and working sessions with physical or fun activities. Provide opportunities for the participants to get to know one another better. Discover things that are common to each other and solve problems together. Since the retreat will involve teammates, it would be good to integrate some team-building exercises.

Team leaders can take advantage of the event to bond together during the activities, discussions, and between sessions. Interact with participants during mealtimes and before the start of formal operations. Just keep in mind that everyone has their definition of fun.

Mix-Up Participants

When planning activities, allow participants to work in different groups. Before the start of the sessions, set expectations that each person will be working in different groups. Break up cliques and “power couples” to get people out of their close circles and expand their spheres of influence. Create seating arrangements where everyone will be able to interact with different sets of people. Another option is to have them count off or let members choose their partners. Just make sure that their partner is different for each activity.

Know Your Audience

When building your plan for the corporate leadership retreat, take into consideration that each team member has its limitations. With this in mind, make the necessary adjustments to the physical activities ensuring that no one is left out. Look beyond the physical and consider other possible limitations that could significantly affect the exercises. For example, you shouldn’t use specific colors of balloons during activities if one of the participant is color blind.

Plan the retreat according to the interests and knowledge base of your attendees. You can do this by soliciting some ideas from them. To help with the planning, you can have each participant do one or more retreat related tasks to accomplish prior to the event itself. By doing this, the participants will be doing their best to ensure the success of the event for the growth and learning of everyone.

Get Feedback

Before the retreat ends, have the participants provide feedback. Ask them what they liked about the event and what changes they want to be implemented in future retreats. Through the feedback, you will be able to make continuous improvement and customize retreats next time. Your participants will expect this question so that they can provide remarkable and tailored suggestions.

The End Is Just The Beginning

Unfortunately, the momentum of the retreat stalls once everyone is back in the office. As much as possible, you should keep the benefits alive. Inject the outcomes of the retreat into your regular cadence points. Provide giveaways or SWAG and take them back to the office to serve as physical reminders of the retreat and all that was learned.

Do keep track of “To Do’s” and communicate the outcome of the retreat to employees. Track progress throughout the year and invite different team members to contribute to the planning for the retreat next year.

Employees will recognize the time and effort you put into planning a retreat. This is something that your team will look forward to every year. They will not look at it as an event they are required to attend. With these tips, you can look forward to a tranquil corporate leadership retreat.

John O. Brooks is a Columnist at Grit Daily. An online entrepreneur and full-time freelance writer, writing is his passion.

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