Retreat. Relax. Recharge. Rewind. Reinvigorate. Refocus.
Really? Do all that in a simple weekend away with your colleagues?
When you think corporate retreat, the word “stuffy” may come to mind. Kinetic’s retreat formula is anything but stuffy. Every year, we try to get away to the mountains, bring the team together in an inviting place and enjoy each other’s company without the demands of the job and the office bearing down.
Some firms that hold retreats will set aside time for formal brainstorming about new initiatives, nagging issues and emerging challenges. A retreat with a serious side can be a terrific way to generate momentum for future actions – if retreat planners don’t let the serious overwhelm the fun.
At our retreats, we tend to err on the side of fun. We returned to Big Sky this year and enjoyed lively discussions – over meals (eating and cooking), in the hot tub, during word and board games, and on a Madison River float. Formal business discussions were few and far between.
The beauty of the Gallatin Valley, majestic Lone Mountain and the bustle of Bozeman provided a great escape from the pressures of the agency grind. We try to relax for a couple of days, though “relax” is a relative term as previous retreats have featured zip-lining, horseback riding and whitewater rafting.
Now retreats that include more formal business sessions, can be wonderfully productive for your enterprise. Here are some suggestions to make your retreat one of your company’s best investments of time and resources of the year.
1. Get away from the office.
Sure, you can do special brainstorming sessions, internal training and team-building gatherings in your workplace. But retreats are best when folks get out and interact in a new setting. New places, new ways of thinking!
2. Have an agenda and a goal.
Some structure for a retreat is important, even for a fun-focused weekend. Team members want to know how they’ll spend their time and then prepare as needed. Mix up the business-related activities with the fun stuff. While retreat speeches from the boss are not recommended, an opening “Welcome, here’s our agenda” statement and a “Thank you for attending, you’re a great team and here’s why” closing is in order.
3. Set a budget.
Remember, you don’t have to throw money at everything to fill every minute. Block out some free time for hikes, games or reading. Because retreats often take weekend time, don’t schedule out the whole day. Do invest in quality lodging and good food and drink.
4. Explore piggybacking off another conference.
If you are a small company with team members scattered in offices around the region or nation, find an industry conference that would be good for your team, and schedule retreat-like activities around the conference sessions that you want to attend. You get professional development and team-building time all in the same place.
Retreats don’t happen overnight. It takes months of planning, making reservations and travel arrangements, organizing activities, etc. If you are bringing in speakers to inform or inspire, that adds another layer of detail. But try to keep it simple. Remember, it’s a retreat (from work), not another off-site workshop.
At Kinetic, our team embraces an “Every Day Greater” culture that Owner/Principal Dana Pulis has fostered since starting her company 12 years ago. Our annual retreats reinforce that shared belief. We feel part of something greater than the individual.
With the rapid growth that Kinetic has experienced in recent years (we’ve more than doubled in size), our retreats have provided opportunities for newer employees to get to know their colleagues much better. Retreats can build trust and understanding among team members. When we’re all on the same page and have each other’s back, it helps us deliver our best efforts for clients.
We’d be fibbing if we said we were all refreshed and reinvigorated after our August weekend of late nights, great (and mostly healthy) food and drink, fun activities and highway time. But we gained a greater appreciation for each other that will help our team do even greater things together for our clients.