Now is the time of year when many businesses are planning their leadership retreats and corporate strategy weekends. Here are our best tips for planning a successful executive leadership retreat.
Narrow Your Focus
When you narrow your focus, you can harness power like a laser beam. Therefore, consider choosing only one or two areas to focus on during your retreat, in order to produce specific results and action steps for the most important business challenges your company faces. Consider the impact of a powerful, direct action plan designed to completely resolve two serious issues . . . as opposed to smattering of suggestions and possible improvements for a whole host of issues.
Set the Ground Rules
This is good information for any kind of group meet: Decide on the ground rules, share them at the beginning of your event, and insist that all participants adhere to these guidelines. If you want more buy-in, decide on the ground rules as a group - that way, you're creating ground rules based on what is most important to the group members. Some examples might include: when sharing challenges with specific employees, do not share the employee's name; only one person gets the floor at a time; what is shared in the room is confidential and doesn't leave the room; etc.
Less Is More
Do not fall into the temptation of over-planning your leadership retreat. When you narrow your focus, you will see that you do not need many "activities" to plan a balanced, productive and well-rounded retreat. Facilitated conversation, team building, problem solving, and action planning should encompass the key components of your retreat. But remember to build in extra time for participants to get to know each other in a relaxed out-of-the-office setting - this is important for strengthening the team and facilitating a cohesive working environment that can continue long after the weekend has ended.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
While planning your leadership retreat, always keep in mind your main goal. Author and speaker Stephen Covey is famous for saying "Begin with the end in mind," and this is sound advice for planning your event. Before adding any activities into the schedule, ask yourself "is this necessary to accomplish our overall objective?" If in doubt, leave it out. Begin with your theme in mind, build value-added activities for the group, and if possible, have another set of eyes review the agenda before finalizing the plan. This will help to ensure that nothing is missed, and that the objective of the retreat is duly accomplished. Otherwise, it would be a waste of resources and valuable time.
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