Read this if you design and facilitate team retreats
July 3, 2023
In July 2023, the Bright Morning team will convene in Boulder, CO. We’re spread around the U.S., so it’s a big deal to have in-person retreats. We have lots of virtual meetings, and we get a whole lot done in those and our asynchronous connections. So when I plan our retreats, my guiding question is: What is it that we can only do or experience when we’re in person together?
Purpose. Purpose. Purpose. (Yes, purpose is Chapter 1 of The PD Book)
Team meetings, PD sessions, and gatherings of all kinds need to be driven by purpose. When purpose is clear, when purpose is unequivocally aligned to a group’s reason for being, then the decisions that follow are easy. I usually feel like there’s NEVER enough time; I still over-plan agendas. I often wish every activity could have just another 45 minutes. But clarity of purpose allows me to ruthlessly edit my plans, prompts, structures, and content leads to a meeting that’s just right, one that doesn’t need another 45 minutes.
How do you deal with feeling like there’s never enough time to get through it all? Identify purpose, narrow that purpose, and then ensure that every step moves towards fulfilling that purpose. When you have a decision to make (should we talk about this or that? Should people be in groups of 3 or 5?) go back to purpose and ask which decision might lead you to fulfilling purpose most efficiently.
The purpose of our team retreat next week is to build relationships (we’ve got four newish team members whom we’ve never met in person!) and to refine a skill set. I’m responsible for overseeing relationship building. To figure out the puzzle of how to accomplish this, I started by reflecting on myself and my leadership. I asked myself: Who do I need to be so that relationships are built? What do I need to do to create a container of psychological safety? How do I need to show up at the retreat?
I also identified all the actions I needed to take months before the retreat. For example, I sent out a survey asking folks about their hopes and fears for the retreat, asking what they need in order to feel safe at the retreat. I researched where we’ll be, what options we’ll have for space in which we can move and do things and connect in walk-and-talks or other activities. I planned for how I’ll be able to show up rested and resourced and leading from my wholest, healthiest self.
There’s so much more I could share about how I plan from purpose and how I lead in a way that cultivates relationship-building. If you’re interested in learning a whole lot more about planning and facilitating group experiences, check out our upcoming Artful Design and Facilitation or The Art of Coaching Teams workshops. I’ve spent more than a decade compiling everything I know about PD and leading teams, and these two workshops give you that information and opportunities to practice the necessary skills.
Stay tuned! Next week I’ll share more about our retreat and more tips and strategies that you can use.
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