It’s Not Too Late for a Summer Planning Employee Retreat

Skydiving star teamwork

L to R: IIAT’s Rick Bondurant, Jim Gavin, Regina Anderson, Linda Rhodes and Marit Peters  catching fierce air while strategizing some new process flows for  FY2017.

For many agencies, business slows down just a tad in the summer. Although you may have to navigate summer vacations, it’s a great time to work “on” the business instead of just “in” it.

A summer planning retreat doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Here are some tips:

  1. Create some atmosphere
    Off-site is ideal if you have someplace affordable. But you can also hold it at the office or a home and make it fun. Choose an exotic locale theme and involve the staff in some simple decorations, attire and food choices.
  2. Start with something that builds social bonds
    Have each participant prepare three slides that highlight at least three things that define him or her. These can be hobbies, passions, experiences, professional role/goals, family, background – anything that helps the team get to know each other better. Give each three minutes to present.
  3. Be intentional
    Have a goal or key take-a-way in mind to accomplish with the meeting. Retreats are best for coming up with big ideas, zeroing in on key imperatives or just building culture. Don’t get granular.
  4. Be prepared
    Lay the groundwork ahead of time. Assign reading related to the focus of the retreat ahead and prepare and circulate any background information necessary to set context.
  5. Include a physical activity
    Make sure you break the day up with something that keeps the blood flowing. Physical activity is conducive to clearer thinking.


    Don’t let poor planning stifle the purpose of your work retreat.

  6. Have an agenda and stick to it
    Get the most out of dedicating a day or two to working “on” the business.
  7. Conclude with some action plans and follow-up timetable
    Circulate a summary afterwards and survey staff for feedback.

The Agency Management Resources section of IIAT has a number of tools to help you work on your agency business including:

Some of these tools are for principals only. Access can be granted to others in the agency with principal permission. All current principals designated in our system are automatically notified via e-mail upon any changes in access status. 

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