Monday, June 6, 2016

Your Summer Staff Retreat

Many organizations like to take a day during the summer to call a “time out” and gather the staff together for a retreat.  Depending on the size of the organization, this could involve everyone or, at larger organizations, departments may end up having their own retreats.

What makes for a successful retreat?  Here are some tips:

*It’s a Retreat.  Some organizations say they want a “Charge” or an “Advance” – not a “Retreat.” There is a time and place for all of these.  The type of “Retreat” I am referencing is when we have all been working really hard all year and we want to relax, celebrate, pause, and reflect.  You can Charge later.

*Get Away.  It does not have to be held at a fancy, expensive lodge in the woods.  It can be as simple as a local park or conference room at a hotel.  Just get out of the office.

*Unplug.  Turn in all smart phones at the beginning of the day and give them back when the day is done.  Have one phone number that everyone can give out for emergencies.

*Set Clear Expectations/Goals/Agenda.  A “Retreat” means something different to a lot of people.  Make clear what the expectations are for the day.

*Don’t Over-Program.  The idea is to relax, celebrate, pause, and reflect.  Give yourselves time to do that.

*Highlights for the Year.  Take some time to reflect upon the most important accomplishments for the year.  Celebrate!  You have been working hard.

*Lessons Learned.  This can start as an individual reflection and then move to the organizational level.  What have we learned about how to do our work most effectively?

*Small Groups.  Do a lot of activities in small groups with reports back to the larger group.  Mix the groups up so people get to know others even better.

*Reconnect to Mission/Vision.  Make sure to wrap up with some activities that remind everyone of the important work that you do, the impact you make, and your visions for the future.  Success stories are a nice way to do this.

*What else?  There are lots of other productive activities you can do to round out a solid staff retreat – ropes course, team-building exercises, personality assessments, etc.   

Take some chill time this summer to Retreat with your team – to relax, pause, reflect, and celebrate the Mission Impact you are making.  You all have been working hard!  You deserve it!!!

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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