As a business owner, you hope that your corporate retreat will have long-lasting results.
Unfortunately, sometimes those long-lasting results come in the form of corporate retreat horror stories that circulate around the office for years.
It's impossible to completely eliminate the risk that something can go wrong in a corporate retreat. Even carefully planned retreats have the potential to quickly become a nightmare. But the most common retreat disasters fall into a handful of categories. We call them corporate retreat horror stories to avoid.
The "Third-Party Provider" Retreat
It's becoming more common for executives to rely on retreat planning firms to run their corporate retreats. Although we're sure there are some great ones out there, they are definitely some wackos out there, too. Carefully vet any third party retreat providers to make sure they won't have your staff sitting around a circle, banging drums. (Yes, that really happens.)
The "Out-of-Control Executive" Retreat
Sometimes executives approach the retreat environment as an office annex, strictly controlling their employees' movements even during down times. If you find yourself scheduling every minute of your employees' time during a retreat, you probably won't hear about it. That's because you will be the retreat horror story.
The "Forced Relationship" Retreat
Let's say you have several branch offices and you've decided to forge relationships by making your employees share a room with a stranger from another branch. Can you say awkward? It's guaranteed that someone (or more likely several people) will have a roommate disaster. You're much better off letting people choose their own roommates and allowing relationships to develop naturally.
The "Strange Bedfellows" Retreat
If you do enough corporate retreats, sooner or later a sexually inappropriate incident will occur. From the female executive who forced a male staffer to room with her and then came out in a see-through negligee (true story) to coworkers who get a little too friendly, nearly everything has happened at a corporate retreat. Set a high standard and keep watch for potential problems.
The "Unrealistic Expectations" Retreat
More than anything else, be realistic about what you hope to accomplish at your retreat. If you go into the retreat hoping to solve a decade-long trend of declining revenues you're probably going to leave disappointed – and the retreat participants' take away will be a sense of frustration rather than a sense of corporate unity.