Why your leadership retreat is boring, unsuccessful and doesn’t deliver peak performance – Part 2

Last week, we shared three of the reasons for this experience and we provided insights into what leaders can do to record a better result. In the concluding episode today, we bring you four additional reasons we have observed and what leaders can do to ensure they make the most of retreats.

4. Having Mediocre Facilitators
Mediocre facilitators are everywhere. The interesting thing is some even charge a premium to deliver a boring, low-impact session. The right facilitator can bring much colour, impact, and charisma to your retreat. When seeking facilitators, you want to check for 6 things – competence, compatibility, creativity, cost-effectiveness, comprehensiveness, and contractual agreement. You want to ensure that your facilitators are competent – they have the capacity to deliver an outstanding experience based on proven track record; compatibility – their values are compatible with yours and their expectation aligns with yours; creativity – they can create a bespoke experience for your retreat; cost-effectiveness – the value they bring matches your investment. On your part, you must be careful to avoid seeking an extra-ordinary experience with an ordinary budget; comprehensiveness – you want to ensure that they are willing and able to engage from pre-retreat to post-retreat and not that they will just show up on the day of the retreat; and contractual agreement – you want to ensure that the activities, terms and conditions are properly documented so that expectations are clear for all parties.

5. Poor Time Management
Time is a resource for all human beings, this means that there are competing uses for it – using it for one thing effectively denies a person its use for something else. Most leadership retreats are notorious for not respecting the time of participants. Events that don’t keep to a pre-agreed time or conscious of time tend to be boring because the implicit disrespect on the attendees is predated on the awful assumption that they have nothing else to do with their time. Most staff members may not communicate their displeasure verbally for obvious reasons but they most likely would do so non-verbally by their body language – being nonchalant to the ongoing as such leadership retreats.

On our continent, there is a popular phenomenon known as African Time – a colloquial terms that loosely describes an entrenched culture of being fashionably late for events. Strangely, most organizations allow this manifest in their informal events. Staff members see such as being indigenous when the leadership or management know how to maximize the time at the office to generate the most value but somehow cannot do the same when it involves non-profit activity. One simple way to resolve this is to have a programme of event with time allotment to speakers, facilitators, and hosts. People should know that time is sacrosanct, and the compere should know how to subtly enforce the laid down rules.

6. Wrong Location
Yes, location can significantly dampen the mood if it’s not well-scouted. It’s common sense for the leadership of any organization planning a corporate retreat to preview the potential choice to see if the place matches the people. You must know what your budget is and where it can afford, the number of people that will be in attendance, the type of activities that will take place (break-out sessions, games, lounges, restrooms etc). Sometimes, the level of luxury or comfort also affects the mood of attendees in a leadership retreat especially when it’s off-site. Turn-offs could include long distance to the venue, noise pollution, not enough restroom, a dirty environment, or generally poor customer experience.
The utility of a place should be topmost priority, if you do your due diligence and if possible, include a handful of staff members in deciding where the venue of the retreat is. Chances are that many people or organizations have complained about certain places before, so you should always check customer review or previous testimonials.

7. Unwanted Guests
Leadership retreats are an opportunity for team members to be vulnerable not audition for a new role. Some staff members find it difficult to be their fun selves in the presence of those they consider strangers. There can be a separate event for or that involves third parties, but retreats should essentially be for familiar faces. With exception of event hosts, facilitators, or anyone else who is making an inevitable cameo, corporate retreat should be a family affair. It’s hard enough to get people to be vulnerable before those they are familiar with, how much harder it would be in the presence of outsiders. In the workplace, office politics is a thing. People are very conscious about not giving ammo to those they perceive as rivals or intruders.

A leadership retreat is a closed event, where attendance is strictly by invitation. An intimate gathering evokes the needed action that is needed to improve productivity and other key performance indicators. Where others are allowed, the specific function or role they are to place should be spelt out.

About Dr. Abiola Salami
Dr. Abiola Salami is the Convener of Dr Abiola Salami International Leadership Bootcamp,The Peak Performer Recognition,The Peak Performing Woman of The Year and Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of The Peak PerformerTM. He is the Principal Performance Strategist at CHAMP – a full scale professional services firm trusted by high performing business leaders for providing Executive Coaching, Workforce Development & Advisory Services to improve performance. You can reach him on hello@abiolachamp.com and connect with him @abiolachamp on all social media platforms.

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