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Planning a Business Retreat: One Step Back for Two Steps Forward

businessman meditatingIt’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

Or months.

Or years.

You’re doing your time, responding to your emails and blog comments, reaching out and building new relationships, and always creating content, thinking about the future and planning what you’ll need to get there.

It can be exhausting, and no matter how much you love what you do, how passionate you are, or how much it all matters, you can’t keep this up forever without driving yourself straight into the ground.

That won’t work for anyone. People need rest. People need breaks. People need to get out of their environments to be able to look clearly at where they’re coming from and where they want to go.

In short, sometimes people need retreats.

We certainly do.

In February of this year, right after the The Epic $294,865 in 25 Days Launch, right after we had taken on and made promises to 450 new students, Danny took the Mirasee team away for a week of retreat.

The timing sucked, and a lot of people were annoyed, but it was the only acceptable option. The previous 4 weeks had been more grueling and more intense than any I had ever experienced, and I wasn’t the only one. We had worked too hard for too long to think straight, and we needed some breathing room if Danny was going to have a team at all come March.

You may be familiar with that feeling.

The team was smaller then – just Danny, Robyn, Amanda and myself – and although the timing ended up being bad, it had been planned carefully and well in advance. After the rush of an exciting new launch, it was a time to regroup, debrief and plan for all of the exciting things we wanted to do in the coming months.

We’re doing it again.

This time before the launch. 😉

Why Retreat? Why Not Just Talk?

You know when you go on vacation, and it takes a couple of days before you can really let go of all the stresses and pressures of your day-to-day life?

But when that “click” happens and you go into vacation mode – everything changes. You sleep more easily, change plans on a moment’s notice and think nothing of spending whole afternoons lazing around.

That’s not quite what a professional business retreat is all about (I wish) but there are elements in common.

A retreat is about getting away, but not necessarily to relax. Sometimes you have to change your scenery and environment – physically remove yourself from the situation in which you live and work to gain real perspective on what’s going on there, and how you’re doing.

It’s easier to focus in a new environment, because all of the distractions that keep you anchored to your normal environment – both important and frivolous  – are a little removed. You have the space to breathe and the perspective to see clearly.

That’s when the fun begins.

When you’re out of the grind of the day-to-day, you have the energy and the enthusiasm to talk about new projects, new directions and new responsibilities. It’s exciting because it doesn’t feel so much like a “piling on” of work – but a shake-up of and new look at what’s already going on.

The benefits to your business can be incalculable – especially when you’ve got a whole team to get on the same page.

What Do Those Benefits Look Like?

There are a bunch of things you can expect to see happen at a well-planned and well-structured business retreat.

Your team can relax outside of the normal workplace setting, and recharge their batteries. It’s the little things of every day, the repetitive (although necessary!) tasks that can really weigh you and them down.

Your team can also connect with each other and with you in new ways. The boundaries of the employer-employee relationship still exist of course, but they’re a little more relaxed around a dinner table with a glass of wine than they are in the conference room with a cup of coffee. This gives you all the opportunity to learn more about each other as people – something that can have broad ranging effects.

The alignment that can come from this – around the mission and vision of your company – makes growing the company in a sustainable way easier and in some cases, possible at all. There has to be an alignment of expectations, goals, rewards and processes for everyone to feel heard and be able to contribute their best.

On the more business side of things, this increased connection and sense of relaxation makes your retreat a prime time to do some real problem solving and strategizing about the business. The environment of a retreat is perfect for people to air their ideas, and really brainstorm the different difficulties and opportunities that come up for every growing business.

How Do You Plan an Effective Business Retreat

A retreat, even when embarked upon with the right intentions, can quickly get derailed and be counter-productive for everyone involved unless you do the prep work. And it takes a long time to do. You want to start planning your retreat months before you go on it – and there are a lot of elements you’ll need to consider.

The first thing you want to make sure of is that you are very clear on what your goals are.

Do you want to plan out the next year’s strategy? Do you want everyone to have clarity on what their role is within the organization? Do you want to solve a lingering problem you’ve been having?

You don’t need to have just one goal – but you should have excellent clarity on everything that you want to achieve.

Next, you want to decide what the overall tone of the retreat needs to be – which environment will help your team best meet the goals you’ve set?  It could be something professional like a hotel with meeting rooms, or something a little more laid back, like a bed and breakfast or rented cottage. (Remember – you’re not going to want to have to devote a lot of time to preparing all of the food for yourselves – that takes time away from your goals!)

If your team is large, new or doesn’t know each other that well yet, you may want to consider hiring a facilitator to help guide discussions and get everyone on the same page. Facilitators have a great arsenal of tools, tips and strategies to get people talking, and can be the objective, neutral voice that helps reign things in, or expand them as required.

The other benefit of a facilitator is that it allows you as the business owner and team leader to participate fully in all of the discussions and activities that you do – and not have to spend a lot of your time and mental energy managing the process.

Finally, you want to make sure that your business retreat has a good balance of work and play; enough time to delve really deep into the goals you’ve set for yourself, but also some fun and laughter to burn off the energy, and keep people feeling positive and enthused. It’s even a good idea to try and get out of your retreat environment for a few hours a day, if you can. If you’ve ever felt like you needed a vacation from your vacation, you’ll understand why.

So We’re Packing Our Bags and Going North…

So, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we’re going on retreat again.

We’ve planned for ages, have our goals firmly in mind, and are going to take a week to regroup, re-energize and get ready to re-launch the Audience Business Masterclass in January.

We know it’s going to be a crazy month – and we know that our success or failure there will make a big impact on what happens to the company in the coming months and years.

It’s critical that we’re ready, rested and excited, so that we can continue to give all of you the support in our trainings and on the blog that you need, want and deserve, and welcome our new students warmly and effectively.

A retreat isn’t a vacation – it IS work – but it’s the kind of work that can’t really be done in the midst of the day to day.

We owe it to ourselves and to you that we practice this kind of “professional self-care.”

So, from Monday December 2nd to 6th, we’re going to be doing everything I’ve spoken about today.  There won’t be updates on the blog, or emails in your inbox. I hope you miss us a little – I know we’ll miss you!

Unlike last time, we’re not going to be on email-lockdown-on-pain-of-seriously-disapproving-glares-from-Danny – we’ll be keeping an eye on things, and can definitely respond to anything urgent that comes up.

If you can however, it would be wonderful if you could wait until we are all back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at our desks on Monday the 9th.

Thank you, as always – have a wonderful week, and wish us luck!

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