The key to planning an annual business retreat is to make sure you have all the bases covered.
(article continues below)
Even a single misstep can make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your retreat and the way it is received by your employees.
Although the details will change from one company to the next, the issues your retreat planning process ought to address include the following:
- Retreat Objectives. Announcing your intention to hold an annual retreat isn't enough. The first step in successful retreat planning is to clarify the retreat objectives. Is brainstorming or staff education the primary reason for the retreat? Or is the retreat primarily a reward for your employees? Unless you understand why you are holding a retreat it will be impossible to address other aspects of the planning process.
- Budget. The proposed budget will be another determining factor throughout the planning process. Unless you have an unlimited budget, you probably won't be able to hold your retreat at a high end beach resort. However, with a little advance planning you can probably find an enjoyable location that meets your needs and satisfies your employees.
- Participants. How many people will attend the retreat and who will they be? This might seem like an obvious consideration, but many business owners overlook it until the last minute -- and that's a mistake. Depending on your business, you might need some folks to stay behind at the office. If so, make sure you identify who won't be going to the retreat from the beginning to avoid hard feelings, especially if the retreat is being held at an enjoyable location.
- Agenda. Once you have identified the purpose, budget and participants, you can begin to put together the agenda -- a detailed plan that describes what will happen during the retreat. With a draft version of the agenda in hand, your next step will be to coordinate your activities with the site manager at the retreat location. If the rooms, audio/visual equipment or other resources your agenda requires aren't available, you will need to change either your agenda or your retreat location.
- Feedback. Planners commonly neglect the need to solicit feedback from employees and retreat participants throughout the planning process. Even though you probably have a good idea what you want the retreat to accomplish, you can increase employee buy-in by inviting input on details that are less important. And when the retreat is over, don't forget to ask for feedback and evaluations as a tool for planning next year's retreat.