PMA Consulting, LLC

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PMA’S Tips For A Successful Leadership Retreat: Part 1

Working at a nonprofit often feels like endless work, with days guided by never-ending to-do lists and nights (and weekends!) spent tying up loose ends. It is easy to let months pass without taking a moment to evaluate the work being done, the staff’s satisfaction, and the Board’s engagement.

A leadership retreat, often led by an outside facilitator, is a meaningful way to take a break from day-to-day duties to focus on the direction and performance of your organization. This week and next we will be exploring important elements of planning and conducting an effective leadership retreat.

Why do we need a retreat?

The Bridgespan Group states, “At its best, a nonprofit’s mission statement is a succinct expression of an organization’s essential reason for existence or core purpose.” The most impressive nonprofits work towards achieving their mission in everything they do: developing and delivering programs, making staffing decisions or structural adjustments, raising money. This can be challenging, but a leadership retreat can help. Goals of a leadership retreat often include:

  • Identify challenges and key organizational needs
  • Define near term priorities that build on strengths and leverage opportunities
  • Create action steps and strategies that advance your mission
  • Encourage stronger relationships and consensus among stakeholders
  • Restructure and reengage both staff and board members to optimize efficiencies and structure
  • Assign responsible parties and metrics to track progress

Who should be involved and how do we prepare?

PMA finds that the most successful retreats bring together a combination of board and staff leaders at a location away from the traditional meeting space. Prior to the retreat, with the help of your facilitator, leadership should outline 3-5 key retreat goals or outcomes. Quality over quantity is key.

Participant buy-in is essential for a successful retreat. If those in attendance do not support the retreat agenda and goals, the session will not be well received. To this end, sending a pre-retreat survey or conducting in-person conversations with those planning to attend to capture feedback on and ideas for the retreat will help ensure attendees feel their time will be well-spent.

Check back next week for strategies to execute a successful, purposeful retreat!

Is your organization contemplating a leadership retreat in 2017? Contact Patton McDowell to learn more about how PMA can assist with retreat planning and facilitation.