Corporate Retreats: 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire An Experienced Facilitator
Corporate retreats are a powerful investment in your leadership team and your company.
Because a well-executed corporate retreat can help leaders to bond in a unique way that will lead to higher productivity and better outcomes for your organization.
Corporate retreats are also a big investment of time and money. Not only do you have to pay for the venue, travel, accommodation, and team building activities, but you’re also disrupting your senior leaders day-to-day work (which they will have to catch up with when they return to the office).
With so much at stake, one of the best ways to get the most out of your next corporate retreat is to hire an experienced facilitator (like me, Gord Sheppard).
What Is A Corporate Retreat?
A corporate retreat is a pre-planned, off-site gathering designed to help leaders deal with their company’s most important issues, while doing team building activities that improve overall communication and trust.
Major themes include strategic planning, innovation discussions and how to improve overall profitability.
When they are done well, corporate retreats can reinvigorate and inspire participants, encourage honest conversations, and align a leadership team’s goals with the broader objectives of the company.
I know this because I am a corporate retreat facilitator who has witnessed the powerful transformation and breakthroughs that can happen for a group of leaders when a corporate retreat goes well.
Want To Work With An Experienced Meeting Facilitator?
10 Reasons To Hire An Experienced Facilitator For Your Corporate Retreat
An experienced meeting facilitator can help you optimize your investment in a corporate retreat because they have:
- Objective Perspective
- Expertise in Group Dynamics
- Strategic Agenda Design
- Focused Time Management
- Enhanced Creativity and Innovation
- Conflict Resolution Skills
- Customization for Your Team
- Build Alignment
- Confidential Relationship
- Post-Retreat Action Plan
1. Objective Perspective
An external facilitator brings an unbiased, objective viewpoint. Because they are ‘not in the family’, as in, they are not tangled up with internal politics or pre-existing relationships. This means that they will be able to say what needs to be said, while they also offer a fresh perspective that is crucial for driving insightful discussions and making unbiased decisions.
2. Expertise in Group Dynamics
An experienced meeting facilitator has a deep understanding of group dynamics. They are also skilled at managing diverse personalities which means that they will bring out the best of each person who attends the retreat.
For example, when Gord works with the ‘talkers’ in the group he will help them be more succinct when they speak. For the introverts, Gord will be empathetic and encouraging to make sure that their important point of view is heard by everyone.
Overall, an experienced facilitator will bring out the best in everyone who attends and while they inspire individuals to be bold and challenge the status quo.
3. Strategic Agenda Design
Crafting an effective agenda is both an art and a science and experienced facilitators are masters at pulling it all together.
For example, if you are doing a strategic planning retreat then your agenda will include:
– Discussing your company’s value proposition
– Understanding the external environment that your company is working within by doing a PEST analysis which involves a facilitated discussion about the political, economic, social and technological factors that may be affecting your organization
– Doing a deep dive in your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT)
– Establishing your vision, mission and values
– Declaring your top 3 to 5 goals and then identifying the objectives that will support getting those goals achieved
– Getting started on a work plan that outlines the details of the specific what/who/when tasks that need to be done to realize your objectives
– Having a high-level discussion about how you will be communicating your strategic plan to all stakeholders once it is approved.
In addition, the agenda will have flexibility to do specific team building activities that are based on the needs you’ve identified before your event.
For example, if your leadership team doesn’t trust each other, then the facilitator will lead an exercise or discussion that helps to build trust.
Overall, the facilitator will spend enough preparation time with you to ensure that everything you want to achieve is reflected in the agenda, and that ultimately your retreat will move your key corporate goals forward.
4. Focused Time Management
An experienced facilitator will make sure that every second counts during your retreat.
One of the key techniques they will incorporate is to use the ‘parking lot’. This means that when a participant makes a point that is off topic, the facilitator will say “thanks for making that point, and while it isn’t relevant for our discussion today, we will put it in the parking lot so you can bring it back up with your team at another time.”
In addition, they will make sure that everyone gets sufficient breaks to check their emails and deal with any pressing work issues.
5. Enhanced Creativity and Innovation
Successful meeting facilitators always bring a broad toolkit of creative techniques to the table.
Through interactive exercises, brainstorming sessions, and team-building activities, participants will be encouraged to think outside the box, and foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
6. Conflict Resolution Skills
Facilitators are experts at handling conflicts with confidence and professionalism. So, when people on your team disagree passionately, they will have already created the psychological safety that is needed to manage the situation.
For example, when Gord manages a serious discussion he makes sure that everyone is aware of the ‘Ground Rules’, as in:
- One person speaks at a time
- Don’t raise your voice
- Make it about the issue and not personal
Then Gord will productively facilitate the discussion in the most constructive manner possible, ensuring that disagreements are fully addressed, and the team can move forward together.
7. Customization for Your Team
Your organization has a unique culture, along with distinct challenges and goals. During the pre-planning phase an experienced facilitator will invest the right amount of time to understand your organization’s specific needs, tailoring their approach to address the unique dynamics of your leadership team.
8. Build Alignment
The main objective of a corporate retreat is to align the leadership team towards the company’s common goals. To achieve this objective a retreat facilitator will meet with key team members in advance to discover what your common goals are. Then they will design a program that allows for open discussion and disagreements, which will then be dealt with and ultimately lead to a common direction that everyone can get behind.
9. Confidential Relationship
Facilitators guarantee confidentiality, and they back it up by signing off on all confidentiality aspects identified in the contractor services agreement.
10. Post-Retreat Action Plan
Once you’ve had success at the retreat, a facilitator will follow up to help leaders to create an action plan after the event. This ensures that all key action items are identified and communicated, and also helps the client build overall accountability.
Because every leader who invests in a corporate retreat wants to see a return on their investment of both time and money.
Hiring an experienced facilitator will help you get the most value out of your corporate retreat.
Gord Sheppard has been successfully leading corporate retreats since 2012. He has worked with a wide variety of leadership teams to help them meet their goals for strategic planning, negotiation, innovation, building deeper levels of trust and more.
Get in touch with Gord to find out how he can help you to optimize your next corporate retreat.