I’ve had the good fortune of planning and facilitating numerous transformational leadership retreats across a wide range of industries. And while many leaders mistakenly believe there's no value in stopping and retreating, my experience has shown otherwise.
I’ve seen how a poorly facilitated and haphazardly planned retreat can be disastrous, but I’ve also learned that not having one at all is even worse. The good news is a well-planned retreat can offer a multitude of benefits for an organization.
1. Improve relationships.
When leaders are busy going from meeting to meeting and rushing to hit deadlines, they often fail to form deep relationships with one another. So their interactions are transactional at best. Leaders who take the time to retreat build more trust with each other, are able to work more effectively, and are able to solve problems more quickly and efficiently than their competitors.
2. Change perspective.
Retreating provides your team with a welcoming, refreshing, and inspiring environment in which to innovate, think and collaborate. This shift in perspective is a rare opportunity for team members to think about the successes and failures they face in their daily work.
3. Allow your team to recharge.
People tend to think of retreats as simply a different place to talk about work—a place for discussing new project ideas and deliberating over workplace conflicts. While a leadership retreat is a great way to approach work in a fresh and dynamic way, it’s also a retreat from the work itself. Leaders and their teams should think of retreats as a rest stop on a long journey. Just like you’d have to refuel your car or get an oil change, teams need to take pit stops too in order to recalibrate and let new ideas flow in.
4. Assess progress.
Sometimes we become so focused on the day-to-day grind we can forget which direction we are moving in. But more work doesn’t always mean the right work, and a laser focus on activity can be detrimental to productivity. Retreats provide teams with a chance to stop and examine the work they’ve been doing. How far have we come? Where are we going? Does our current work lead us to our goals? Stopping to assess your progress allows such critical questions to be pondered and answered.
5. Correct your course.
As stated in the point above, retreats allow time for reflection and assessment. But that’s not all—they also allow time for resolution and improvement. When you’ve identified areas of inconsistency, or you’ve determined that certain work feels misaligned to the main goal, it’s essential to correct the course. The best way to do this is to open a discussion with your team. When everyone on the team contributes their ideas to the solution collaboratively, it’ll increase the chances that everyone will stay motivated and on-task in the long term.
Please add to the conversation—comment below or on Twitter at @gregbellspeaks.