At CEL, we focus on work that is Creative, Effective and Lasting. Did you catch that first word? Creative. And while every member of our illustrious team has some natural creativity, even the best of us need a chance to recharge once in a while.

To help guide us on this quest, CEL founder and CEO Cindy Leines led our team on a half-day, off-site retreat that had us learning, thinking and bonding (more on all that later).

Why should you consider a staff retreat?

Do you have a new team that needs an opportunity to get to know each other? Do you need to boost energy or morale in a team that has been together a long time? Has professional development taken a backseat for too long? Your first step in planning a retreat is to identify your goals and determine whether or not a retreat is the best way to achieve them. Here are a few of the more common retreat goals:

  1. Teambuilding
  2. Professional Development
  3. Personal Growth
  4. Creativity and Innovation
  5. Engagement in the Mission/Vision

Once you have identified the purpose of the retreat, here is a checklist of other considerations:

  • Budget: Knowing how much you have to spend will help determine all of the other components of the retreat. And if the answer is zero, don’t let that deter you! You can meet on-site or at a free community space, plan a pot-luck for lunch facilitate it yourself.
  • Location: There are several advantages to moving the venue away from day-to-day distractions. How far away and how extensive an establishment depends on the budget and the culture of your organization.
  • Facilitation: Are you bringing in outside experts for workshops on project management or guided meditation? Or will team members be responsible for facilitating different aspects of the retreat? Again, much of this depends on the goals.
  • Planning committee: Once the goals, budget and other key decisions are made, it’s time to pull together a committee to help with the details. This has a two-fold benefit. First, you don’t have to do it all yourself. Second, it will create more buy-in and excitement from the larger group. They can help create the agenda, plan for food and snacks and help set-up the space that day.
  • Communication: Start the buzz early. Get your larger group excited about the retreat and set expectations accordingly. People will be happiest if they know what to expect, what to bring, what is expected of them and what they will get out of it.

So, back to the CEL retreat…

Our team recently gathered at an off-site location to focus on strategies for enhancing client services and building stronger businesses, families and communities (numbers 4 and 5 above). The scene for this building process was set up as a construction zone with construction tape and hard hats worn by all. Keeping within the theme throughout the day, there were prize drawings for gift cards to Home Depot, packaged with construction toys and tool sets. Not only did this creative setting set the tone for our work, it added an element of fun and teambuilding (number 1 above).

Once we settled into the job site, managers from all areas of CEL provided reports and identified their triumphs and challenges. In response, our entire construction crew offered new ideas and strategies for meeting those challenges head on. From there, we made a “punch list” of what we will all contribute to turning those challenges into triumphs. At the end of the day, we had clarity of mission and were energized to carry it out.

What do you want to build within your business or organization? When you take the time to get away, construct some new plans and hammer things out, it can result in some exciting new developments!