Three learning benefits of corporate retreats

Corporate retreats are great ways to improve staff development, as well as productivity and accountability, argues one industry commentator.

The corporate retreat is a vital part of the strategic year for companies that value their team as much as their bottom line, according to Nikki Fogden-Moore, lifestyle coach, speaker and author of the new book, Vitality.
“The trick is to ensure you plan your retreat like you would your business, right down to the people who should be there, your budget and your purpose,” she told HRM.
In particular, Fogden-Moore said that strategic escapes are essential for creativity, performance and leadership:
Creativity requires space to think and environments that can inspire.
Providing a digital detox and fresh perspective for your team can take the brain off autopilot, and into fifth gear with renewed energy and vision. 
Like the saying goes – “Keep doing the same thing and you’ll get the same results”.
So instead of re-painting the office walls and moving some plants around, make sure you plan in creative breaks during the retreats that allow time to reflect and indulge in ideas.

Close the laptops and bring out the A3 paper. The cognitive connection to thinking and writing is incredible. It allows a flow and a dynamism that cannot often be captured by tapping away at a keypad. 
Bring your team back to basics by making idea generation and problem solving larger than life on big sheets of paper for opportunities, concerns and challenges.
Allow the conversation to continue over dinner or lunch. An agenda can flow when people are given the opportunity to share ideas without a stop watch.
Identify how you will share the ideas when you get back in the office.
A retreat is there to help recharge mental and physical batteries - not deplete them any further.

Integrate a yoga or fresh air session in the morning with a mid-afternoon session outdoors or something that gets people moving.  
Encourage “home-work” or calibration time in the evenings and embrace the value of sleep.
View the retreat as time to share the value of bringing personal and business vitality to life and how this can be integrated seamlessly back at the office.
Bring in speakers and facilitators that understand the importance of both personal and business acumen - it can make the world of difference teaching your leadership team how to take all areas up to the next level.
Create tangible milestones during the retreat you all agree to continue in the office for KPI’s and performance - look at commercial and personal goals at each review.  
Most of all, if you’re going to apply agreed accountability measures, make them official.
Show that ideas agreed and generated on retreat can be swiftly implemented as soon as possible back at work.
Corporate retreats are an ideal opportunity for executive teams to test elements and roll them out for a period of time before sharing with the broader teams.
It may be a four week implementation period post-retreat that requires a re-group before roll-out. By leading by example, the element of authenticity and trust is improved. This creates a real engagement with leaders across divisions as well.
Often retreats are an opportunity to see other skills, characteristics and ideas from those around you - a forum where problem solving and collaboration can show leadership in a different light.

Most importantly, leadership teams and executive level management have an opportunity to explore the core commercial elements on the agenda as well as their personal well-being in a safe and constructive environment. 
Increasing personal connection can greatly improve collaboration and work ethic inside a company - it’s essential for our increasingly virtual world.  This all greatly improves productivity and accountability.

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