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PMA’s Tips For A Successful Leadership Retreat: Part 2

Last week, we explored why leadership retreats can be helpful and how to prepare for a successful retreat. This week, we outline strategies for executing a productive and purposeful retreat.

What should happen at an effective retreat?

PMA finds that the below “rules of the retreat” help encourage participation, respect, and solution-oriented thinking among retreat attendees:

  • Participate: each perspective is a valued and important part of the discussion
  • Encourage others: starting with a brief and simple team building or ice breaking exercise will break down walls, encourage open dialogue, and avoid shame or blame throughout the retreat
  • OK to be messy: try to shed any expectations of coming to clear, definitive conclusions during the retreat itself. Engagement and participation is the important part.
  • Be responsible for your own learning: a concerted effort to understand the issues facing the organization will lead to productive brainstorming exercises, realistic expectations, and accountability.
  • Follow-up: define milestones, responsible parties, and check-in points to ensure the organization will move forward with actionable steps.

Is an outside facilitator necessary?

An experienced facilitator will help foster an environment in which participants can converse freely, an essential part of a successful retreat. Further, a facilitator will keep the group focused, helping to avoid getting into the weeds and losing direction. A facilitator may provide:

  • Pre-retreat planning to help define milestones and objectives
  • Program and agenda design; material creation and organization
  • Retreat facilitation
  • Collaborative and interesting brainstorming activities that encourage participation and dialogue
  • Unique, objective feedback on next steps, ownership of action, and a time frame in which to complete stated goals
  • Debrief with leadership team to discuss retreat outcomes

A leadership retreat is key to helping both staff and board members enhance their knowledge of and engagement with the organization. By inspiring action and results, the retreat is the much-needed “check-in” for which many organizations are searching.

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.