Introduction

This week, let’s focus 2 Tips on supporting you with in-house annual staff retreats.

The following 2 Tips are important for developing an in-house staff retreat or going with a retreat facilitated by an external specialist. Unfortunately, even third-party specialists overlook these 2 Tips. These might seem obvious, but we rarely see them implemented!

Tip 1

Most of the sessions should advance the organizational operations.

Tip 2

Assess the impact of the retreat to inform ongoing staff needs and future retreats.

Why Focus on Organizational Operations?

The intended outcomes for the staff retreat should never include to have a good time. Does that sound strange?! Fun should be an approach and a value that comes through accomplishing the intended outcomes.

Retreat outcomes should include items such as the following:

  1. Design simpler protocols
  2. Tinker with new tools for common tasks
  3. Align departments with the organizational mission
  4. Clarify organizational values and the three-year vision
  5. Examine what in the Strategic Plan is completed and what is left to accomplish
  6. Build the annual calendar of events and a strategy for accomplishing each event

In addition to these six examples, staff retreats benefit from focus on soft skills in order to advance individual and team competencies. Competencies might include learning about the “appreciation languages” that individual staff members carry, the most up to date research on the falsity of multitasking, health and wellbeing statistics on and off the clock, and exercise-based activities such as dance offs and ropes courses.

Ultimately, keep the retreat – whether planned and facilitated by the staff or an outside specialist – focused on making a direct, qualitative impact on the experience of working in the organization. Check-out the sample staff retreat agenda below.

(By putting in your email address to see the sample, we can understand how many people are using and benefiting from the free materials. Don’t worry; we don’t share your email with anyone outside of Anchoring Success and you can opt out of the materials that we send each week if you are overloaded with free nonprofit stuff!)

 

Why Assess the Retreat?

Assessing the ways that the staff members were impacted by the retreat is simple.

The point here is to collect strategic feedback in order to do something with that feedback. In a short, anonymous survey, find out how much knowledge and skills were gained by the staff members. Also ask about the types of learning and strategy activities that the staff want for the next year’s retreat. (Remember that Anchoring Success encourages: Don’t make feedback surveys the last thing at the event or retreat!)

Once you have this information, your organization can determine whether small support activities are needed mid-year and how to develop the next retreat. Check-out the sample assessment survey for the staff retreat.

(By putting in your email address to see the sample, we can understand how many people are using and benefiting from the free materials. Don’t worry; we don’t share your email with anyone outside of Anchoring Success and you can opt out of the materials that we send each week if you are overloaded with free nonprofit stuff!)

For Heaven’s Sake

Make retreats two-days.

The benefits are many! With two-days, the staff are given the opportunity to fully engage each subject matter in the agenda. Also, with two-days of time, “field trips” to relevant programs and service sites become possible; these might be sites that your organization provides or that partners offer. The trips might be provided through a video, photo slide, or a physical tour of a predetermined site. Walking meetings and exercise activities during Department- or program-specific planning activities also become possible.

Why did we develop 2 Tips videos?

The Anchoring Success team trusts the talent and sophistication of professionals in community-based organizations. We know that many professionals and organizational leaders do not have the funds to partner with specialists (like us) and/or the time to strategize on what might seem like extra projects.

Therefore, we launched these 2 Tips videos to support you with making tweaks, adjustments, and refinements in programs and operations — doable for busy professionals like you!

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