Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How to make your corporate retreat more productive

Getting your leadership team away from the endless distractions of phone calls, emails and the office can really help them to concentrate on whatever the issues are at hand — be it planning, problem-solving or strategy.

But while taking your management team on a retreat is a fantastic way to inspire fresh ideas, rekindle their passion for the business and stimulate clear thinking, it’s also a big investment. So how do you make sure your corporate retreat is as productive as possible?

Plan ahead

Whether you’re taking six people or 26, they’re going to have diverse tastes, interests, dietary requirements, and so on. While a large part of your “getaway” will be business, you want everyone to be as happy as possible in order to get the best results.

Set a budget for the event and find your location and lock in the venue first — making sure the accommodation has enough beds and bathrooms. Once you have your location, plan out your catering well ahead of time. Then work out what fun activities you’ll be hosting and your timetable of when you’ll all be knuckling down and working.

Don’t leave anything to chance. Planning is key to running an efficient and productive corporate retreat. You don’t need the team bickering about which restaurant to go to, which bed they want, or whose turn it is to stack the dishwasher.

Start with team building

You work together every day but how well do you all really know each other? It’s easy to approach team-building activities cynically, but they’re a great way to break down barriers — and even help rebuild working relationships that have become fractious over time.

You don’t want to go into the big issues that have dogged you in the office when you’re on retreat. They’ll only cause ructions and delays during the most important parts of your weekend.

It’s great to do something physical, if you can — something you can do as a group. Surfing lessons, for instance. Or perhaps caving or abseiling. It just needs to be something that puts everyone on level footing — that challenges everyone by getting them out of their comfort zone.

Solve problems in groups

Related to team-building activities is problem-solving. Include in your schedule some kind of activity that allows your team to work in smaller groups. Mix the members of your various teams together, so people are forced to problem solve with colleagues they don’t work with on a day-to-day basis in the office.

This might feel like you’re delaying getting down to business, but what you’re doing is breaking down barriers, building new relationships, and getting everyone into a place, mentally, where they’re working together, open to ideas, contributing, and striving for solutions.

A popular problem-solving activity for corporate teams is an organised treasure hunt.

Knuckle down

When everyone has had a dose of fresh air and sunshine and they’re thinking clearly and working together well, they’re in a great place to start tackling the work you’re really there to do.

Schedule your time. Have a logical sequence of events. Start with a summary of the problems or situation at hand, outline what the goal is for each session, and encourage everyone to participate. Make sure everyone gets a chance to speak and is listened to and respected.

Know when to take a break from the session. Hopefully things won’t get heated, but have a plan in case they do. Once voices are raised in anger or fingers are being pointed, productivity goes out the window. Getting the team to take a dip in the ocean is always a great way to hit the reset button.

Make time to relax

Yes, you’re on retreat to work, but don’t forget to relax, too. Plan for some free time so people can get away from each other for an hour and read a book or go for a swim or browse the local shops — whatever it might be.

But also, plan fun time together. Go out to a good restaurant, go wine tasting, have a private chef come prepare a meal for you and get a local musician or band to play for you, so you can all light up the dance floor. Whatever it may be, don’t forget to have fun.

If you’re planning a corporate retreat, take a look at some of the fantastic locations Private Properties has available in Western Australia’s South-West. We have a range of stunning retreat locations that can cater for up to 12 people, including Quins Landing in Dunsborough  and Farm Break in Bunker Bay.

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