The CEO’s Guide to Strategic Planning Retreats That Get Results: PART 2

This post is the second in a three-part series on how to hold a successful strategic planning retreat. It outlines how to get the most value from your time during your annual retreat.

The other posts in this series discuss the key steps you must take before your strategic planning retreat and how to follow up to ensure your organization’s ongoing success.

6 Ways to Maximize Time During Your Strategic Planning RetreatPART II: 6 Ways to Maximize Your Time During a Strategic Planning Retreat.

You’ve likely attended an unproductive strategic planning retreat in the past. You had to leave the office – and maybe even your home – for a few days and travel to a remote destination that promised to make magic happen within your team. But when you got there your team talked about all the same things as last year and didn’t really accomplish anything, and your organization didn’t change for the better.

We feel your pain and, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Your strategic planning retreat should be an inspiring event where your team members work together to achieve great things for your organization. This requires a mix of creativity, collaboration and fun.

Here are six things a leader should do during a strategic planning retreat to inspire your team and align them around a shared vision:

1. Listen.

Many leaders are competitive and high in dominance. While these qualities are what makes them powerful leaders, they can also get in the way when building a team game plan.

A leader’s strength of personality can overpower their team during meetings – often without their even knowing it. Controlling the conversation will cause your team to shut down. If you want to craft a strong strategic plan, you need to share the reigns with your team.

The most powerful strategic plans are the ones that teams create in real-time. The more your team members contribute to the plan, the more they will gain a sense of ownership. Then, they will be inspired to take action and help your organization achieve long-term success.

2. Define your “WHY”, “WHAT”, and “HOW”.

To build an on-purpose strategic plan, you must address the following topics:

  1. WHY you exist. Develop or reaffirm your core philosophy. What is your mission? What are your core values?
  2. WHAT your goals are for next few years. What will have the biggest impact on your growth, customers and employees?
  3. HOW you will execute your strategic plan. What are your strategies, tactics, and timelines? Who will be responsible for conducting the work required and by when?

3. Move from the macro to the micro and finally, back to purpose.

Your organization likely has “big picture” people who love to talk about philosophy. You also probably have more “operationally focused” people who are driven by completing tasks and paying attention to details. Many team members won’t want to contribute to the big picture until they have a chance to address, share, or sometimes vent about their challenges. Once they are satisfied that their issues are going to be addressed, only then can they focus on strategy and purpose.

Start the retreat by discussing the macro – what’s going on externally, and give some thought to organizational purpose. Then, evolve the conversation to your organizational goals and the issues you face. We employ a technique where everyone confidentially addresses challenges by writing what’s preventing their success on a cue card that we resolve together. From there, everyone can move back up to refine their actions and goals, as well as confirm the organization’s purpose.

4. Give all of your team members floor time.

Every organization has people who love to take center stage and people who prefer to work quietly behind-the-scenes.

It’s important to give everyone a chance to participate. Ensure you hear from the introverts and analytical types who tend to keep their insights to themselves. This means you need to control the extroverts who are dominating the conversation and incorporate a process that encourages and allows the quieter types to engage.

Your team should also feel like they are in a safe space where they can be honest about their opinions. Moderate the conversation to make sure that no one is embarrassed or ridiculed when they share their thinking.

5. Be an example.

The leader must serve as an example for the team. This means sharing your passions and commitment, as well as demonstrating some vulnerability. Leaders must typify the culture and values of the organization they lead. While business is a game of efficiency, productivity, and results it is also a game that needs heart, passion, and caring. Leaders who live by all of these traits are the ones who inspire followers and lead their venture to greatness.

At a memorable strategic planning retreat, a new leader shared a lot about his background, fears, and challenges. His honesty helped the team relate to him. He led by setting the example and the entire team – which was previously competitive, combative, and at odds with one another – became more honest and collaborative. It also helped the team be more willing to get on board with a common vision.

6. Have fun.

Fun? At a strategic planning retreat? You bet!

Strategic planning is stressful. Big decisions affecting lives and careers take place at these events. However, it’s important to break up your work sessions with some fun. Explore the sites. Take part in outdoor activities. Conduct some activities that you wouldn’t normally do at work. Have a few beverages together. These activities can build morale and help your team get to know each other.

Creating an on-purpose strategic plan is a team process. When your team works together, it crafts a powerful plan that will help your organization grow, drive revenue and blast past your competitors.

Stay tuned for the final blog post in this series, where you will discover how to follow up after the retreat to ensure success. Also, be sure to check out the first post, which offered tips on what to do before your strategic planning retreat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *