Facilitation of Retreats
Facilitation of Retreats
As a component of assessment, or as a stand-alone event, annual retreats are vital to the success of a professional service firm. Annual retreats allow an organization to know itself more fully, and contribute to both familiarity and empowerment among the staff. Improved organizational “self-knowledge” results in decisions that are more likely to lead to accomplishing desired goals. Improved familiarity results in greater job satisfaction and trust among co-workers.
These positive results are especially likely when retreats that include all staff and management personnel. However, retreats can also be tailored to a particular sub-group, such as the partners or the upper management team.
We have all heard of organizational change initiatives that are met with apathy or active resistance. This does not happen when change is initiated by conversations that take place at a democratic and transparent firm wide retreat. This is because everyone understands the change, its foundation and intent.
Open Space has been used for years by organizations, large and small, to access the creativity and enthusiasm of its staff around a given topic. It is a method that allows participation, shared leadership, and a sense of empowered involvement with the subject at hand.
With the theme determined in advance, staff members will create an agenda for the retreat during the first hour of the get-together. Although the theme may be as broad as, “How can we create the best possible firm?”, all aspects of the theme that are important and exciting to those present will be discussed. Any participant will be empowered to suggest a topic for the agenda and to convene a small group meeting on that topic. Through simple organizational tools, a schedule of these meetings, including location and times throughout the afternoon, will be generated and displayed.
Small group conversations on the agenda topics will go on in designated places and during distinct time slots. Participants will be free to move from conversation to conversation, insuring that they will always be involved in dialogue that is meaningful and interesting to them, and providing cross-pollination of ideas.
At the concluding session, all participants will be invited to make remarks about the experience of the afternoon. Because everyone has had the opportunity to spend the time in dialogue about ideas that are important to them, themes will emerge from these remarks that are insightful, creative and energetic.
Likely Retreat Outcomes
Typically, results from a firm retreat fall into two categories. The first kind of results are action items that can easily be done right away. These actions arise from the many good and practical ideas that are always generated when people converse about topics they really care about. An example of this might be a simple change to a work process that makes it more efficient.
The second kind of results are ideas, insights, and creative imaginings that require more thought or research before action can be taken. These outcomes sometime generate staff workgroup formation or suggest a basic reconsideration of procedures or structure. Often the surfacing of issues that involve the deeply embedded culture of an organization will cause widespread surprise among participants.
Consultants Scope of Work
Typical scope of work for an all-firm retreat is as follows:
RM Klein Consulting offers facilitation of firm retreats to firms of all sizes, nationwide.
During a firm retreat at CD Architects, it came out that staff members felt competitive toward one another. They talked about feeling pressure to perform and to always look busy, which somehow transferred into a need to appear better than the person sitting next to them.
This revelation shocked the principal who prided himself in creating what he thought was a friendly, collaborative feeling at the firm. It gave the Principal the opportunity to say that he believed that excellent performance was best achieved through collaboration not competition. He also had the opportunity to consider what messages he was giving that made his staff think otherwise. Just the awareness that the issue existed, plus the chance for honest communication about it, was enough to initiate change.