Purpose of an Offsite Leadership Retreat
A company leadership retreat is a great way to accomplish several things. We have seen many organizations attempt to utilize a series of workshops in the companies’ conference rooms. We feel strongly that this does not produce the results you would get with an offsite retreat. The results you are looking for will materialize faster when you work to create a team. There are several reasons why offsite retreats work better.
- Your staff is free from day-to-day distractions of the office.
- The setting is different and will allow for a different mindset when working on issues.
- Bonding between departments and or teams happens during free time.
- Members of management become more “human” when staff see them in a different atmosphere.
Those last two are far more important and far too often overlooked. There is an old saying that every team is a group, but not every group is a team. Respect leads to trust, which leads to better communication, which leads to creating a team!
Creating a team out of your group is the single most important reason to hold an offsite retreat!
Create a Team out of a Group
What is the difference between a group and a team? A group, consists of two or more individuals who have been put together for any number of reasons. A team is a group that has a shared sense of purpose (mission). This shared sense of purpose, will result in a more cohesive unit, and the results will be superior. One team characteristic includes better interpersonal communication. This, by itself, allows for the ability to discuss and debate issues, rather than argue over them. Another is team members’ recognition that there is an interdependence between individuals. This recognition allows for each member to recognize and understand the unique value others bring to the team.
While team building should be the primary focus of any retreat, the organizers will typically have defined outcomes they are striving for. Take strategic planning, for instance. These can be separate for main functions, like sales, operations or finance. They can be multi-discipline as well, involving staff from every workgroup. I am particularly fond of the multi-discipline retreats, because each area of the company can actually see the effect of their plan on the other units or departments.
When a company is experiencing a crisis, it is not the best time to start thinking about a retreat. Yet, many times, this is when executives start looking for outside solutions. We have been asked to facilitate an organization that was facing bankruptcy and was looking for quick, short-term solutions. Others call for assistance when a unit has hit an impasse when developing a new product. Still, others have even called on us to work through issues concerning mergers and acquisitions. In every case, when a company called because of a crisis, we found, through pre-retreat planning, that the most glaring deficiency was a lack of trust, between executives and management, between management and staff, and between departments within the organization.
Strategic Planning or Culture Development
When things are seemingly going well for an organization, it is a great time to hold an offsite retreat. These events usually surround working on long-term strategic planning, or culture development. While I believe both are worthy and can develop specific outcomes, there is more that can be done. The concept of team development should be viewed as our primary goal. We have worked with several organizations that felt they were doing well with the culture and team concept. Again, through pre-retreat discovery, we found that even in the best companies, barriers exist. These barriers prevent individuals from being completely honest, and sometimes, the best ideas never see the light of day.
The Real Purpose and Benefit of a Retreat
The real purpose and value of an offsite retreat is to build relationships. These relationships can only be built on trust. Combine a trust-centered relationship with a shared mission and you have the basis of a team!