Sun, Nov 19, 2017

Corporate Planning & Staff Retreats

One of the most important events in the calendar of every organisation is the Annual Staff Retreat. At times also known as Corporate Planning or Workplan Seminar, this time set aside has tremendous potential to prepare and equip the staff well for the next lap. Some organisations have underestimated the importance and power of retreats by simply organising either an entire day of fun and relaxation or yet another day of intensive planning and presentation. A Staff Retreat should consist of both fun and work. More importantly, a great retreat is one that is carefully engineered with seamlessly intertwined and intentional activities.

Building on over a decade of experience facilitating retreats, Luminaries Lab now serves organisations in running these key events successfully through three key functions:

#1 – Ascertaining which phase of the journey the organisation is in

Every organisation is somewhere along the journey towards its vision. Along the way, intermediate goals are achieved and milestones are set. With reference to the next milestone, knowing where the people as a corporate entity are is vital in helping them frame their minds for the corporate planning. So the first thing we do is to help our clients ascertain which of the three phases they are in. Depending on which phase you are in, recommended components in the form of topics are infused. With that in place, highly engaging experiential activities are built in to maximise the learning experience and hence desired outcomes.

a) The Launch Pad Phase
This is the recommended framing for cases where there is a re-branding exercise, merger and acquisition, new boss or change in corporate direction. When the retreat is run on the Launch Pad Phase, the key components we integrate into the programmes include Change Management, Creative Thinking and Innovation, SWOT Analysis and Self Leadership.

b) The Half Time Phase
As the name suggests, this framing is used in cases where an initiative has been launched but the finishing line is still some distance away. It is also a common choice for stable organisations such as schools and manufacturing companies with yearly repetitive activities. This is a time to reflect on the progress thus far and how to move forward. For the Half Time Phase, the key components we integrate into the programmes include Critical Thinking, Active Communication, Stress Management and Motivation.

c) The Culmination Phase
This is where a major milestone has been accomplished or missed. Regardless of the result, in most cases, efforts have been put in. It is a time to show appreciation, highlight what was done well and learn from mistakes. A costly mistake committed far too often is starting yet another initiative or project without closing the previous one with a time of review, bonding and appreciation. Such disregard turns staff off more than an empty pantry. For the Half Time Phase, the key components we integrate into the programmes include Personal Effectiveness, Parallel Thinking, Conflict Resolutions and Teamwork.

#2 – Establishing a theme

Regardless of which phase our clients are in, we help them establish a theme which is essential to aid focus and retention during the Corporate Planning. At times, the theme is closely linked to the phrase. For example, “Moving by Faith to Take Our Land” is used for the Launch Pad Phase. At other times, the theme is selected based on a pressing need. For example, when interpersonal conflicts are prevalent, the theme is “Building the Dream Team for a Breakthrough”. A theme is extremely useful when employed by a wise leader in rallying the people and solving issues. It must be intentionally and explicitly infused into the activities and training materials.

#3 – Being the third party

In a romantic relationship, having a third party is not exactly a good thing. But this is not so in a Staff Retreat. To save some money, some companies decide to run their own Corporate Planning. And the result is often less than desirable. These are the two key reasons why our clients pay us to do it.

Reason #1
Throughout the year, the staff have probably been listening to the same music from the bosses. To continue doing so for the entire day of the retreat is simply depressing for many. For people to look forward to the event, there must be a fresh and surprise element. Having an external entity fulfills that. In addition, there are always essential values such as respecting leadership and loyalty that simply cannot be addressed by the bosses themselves. We emphasise these values often and we know the bosses or leaders appreciate it. There are also sensitive things such as certain staff bad habits that are best addressed by a third party indirectly during the relevant sessions. The people’s defense level is much lower since we are strangers who are supposedly without any idea of the existing issues.

Reason #2
Did they forget again that the staff who are assigned to organise the Corporate Planning are also staff who need the retreat? Instead of getting refreshed and recharged, the team, usually the high performers, running the event end up suffering from burnt out. They also often face discouragements because being the organisers further distant their colleagues from themselves. In some cases, they do not get the cooperation from their colleagues during the activities as the latter deem them as having vested interest. These real problems are almost non existent when a third party runs the event. Now you know why we love to be the third party. Our clients are the ultimate winner for spending. (By the way, do you know that you can receive more money than you spend on training using the government’s PIC scheme?)

A great staff retreat can do wonders. We have been told wonderful reports by our clients. As a leader, hear yourself saying some of these by the end of the retreat:

        "We have not seen such team spirit and energy in the departments"

                                                                   "Many hidden talents have been uncovered today"

                   "I have not laughed like this for years, not in the company"

"Never witnessed tears resulting from being motivated and reconciliation from our team"

                                                                      "The corporate sense of belonging right now is just awesome"

Make your training reservation today and let your next staff retreat be the best one ever!

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