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  • Writer's pictureMarleen Greenleaf

Make Company Retreats Work for You

Did you spend your last corporate retreat trekking through the woods and singing Kumbaya? You’ll be happy to know that there is a better way.

Turn the annual gathering into an event you’ll look forward to by focusing on team building, and reigniting your enthusiasm for your work. Try these suggestions for what to do before, during, and after your company retreat.

Things to Do Before Your Company Retreat

  1. Join the retreat committee. Hopefully your boss will create a planning committee with representatives from each department. Otherwise, why not suggest one, and volunteer to serve on it yourself?

  2. Meet with the facilitator. Maybe your company is hiring an outside facilitator or designating a staff member to play the part. Either way, sit down with them in advance to offer your input, and stay on top of the proceedings.

  3. Tackle big issues. Save the retreat for items that are too complicated for staff meetings and other briefer sessions. Focus on what would help you to do your job better.

  4. Prepare questions and comments. Turn your ideas into specifics by outlining what you want to address. Rehearse your remarks.

  5. Clarify your purpose. Retreats or any meeting will be more successful if the participants know what to expect. Review the agenda, and ensure you understand the goals. Keep your personal objectives in mind as well.

Things to Do During and After Your Company Retreat

  1. Speak up. A successful retreat depends on broad participation. However, many companies have employees who tend to dominate the conversation and others who are hesitant to speak. Suggest a format that makes participation easier, like breaking out into small groups.

  2. Stay on topic. It’s easy for prolonged discussion to wander astray. Do your part to stay focused on the agenda.

  3. Play around. At the same time, humor and games may contribute even more to team spirit than spreadsheets and white papers. Bring a Frisbee.

  4. Collaborate with new colleagues. When is the last time you had a long talk with someone outside of your department? Use the retreat to become better acquainted with staff members you rarely see. Ask about their work and explore how you can support each other.

  5. Broaden your education. One way to make retreats more enriching is to schedule an educational or training component. Consult with other staff in advance to see what your peers are interested in. You may return to the office with a clearer understanding of recent research or proficiency with a new software program.

  6. Reveal your talents. If you’d like to retool your job description, take advantage of the retreat to display skills and expertise that you seldom use around the office. Become the in-house resource for flower arrangements or Spanish to English translation.

  7. Recap your experience. Smart teachers end their classes with a summary that reinforces the material. You can do the same by leaving about 15 minutes at the end of the retreat to wrap things up and review the highlights.

  8. Reflect on your lessons. Keep your retreat fresh in your mind when you’re back at your desk. Bring back notes and pictures that you can enjoy.

  9. Follow up. Write up a detailed plan of action on how you’re going to use the retreat to enhance your job performance. Create timelines and metrics so you can track your progress.

Your company retreat offers an ideal opportunity to enhance communications and bond with your colleagues while you’re free from daily distractions. Building closer relationships and increasing your productivity will help you to accomplish more and find greater satisfaction in your work.

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