Before you sit down to plan your company's next retreat, take a moment to think about what you'd really like to accomplish. Instead of defaulting to last year's agenda of terrible presentations followed by golf and booze, begin with a clean sheet of paper and design your event to get meaningful work done in a fun and unique way. Here are a few "rules" that might get you started:
1. When planning a retreat, the most important voice at the table belongs to your best customers. Ask them what your business needs to improve upon in the coming year, and invite them if you dare.
2. At a good retreat, your company's leadership should spend as much time listening as they do talking. At a great retreat, that ratio is closer to 3:1.
3. It is far more important for you to think together at your next retreat than it is for you to drink together.
4. If you don’t make time for your people to improve your company during the retreat, they’re less likely to improve it when the retreat is done.
5. The first things your attendees should learn are one another’s names. Familiarity builds collegiality. Attendees won’t care what their colleagues do until they know who they are.
6. “Networking” cocktail parties don’t encourage company-wide collaboration as much as they encourage company-wide inebriation.
7. If the retreat is the only time your people talk about marketing, it will be the only time they think about marketing. Same goes for client service.
8. Your staff knows more about how to serve your customers well than your associates do. Bring them along, value their opinions and act on their suggestions. You’ll find that the cost of their attendance is far lower than the cost of their absence.
9. The three questions every attendee should be able to answer after a retreat are: “What can I do better?” “Who should I know better?” and “Why should I be better?”
10. The two costliest items at any retreat are the time and attention of the attendees. Use them wisely.
If you're still struggling to plan that next retreat, give us a call. We'd be happy to help!