Just a few weeks ago, we completed our annual Member Services Retreat. Although it takes a bit of planning and prep work from each department, I always look forward to spending this focused time together. It is a great opportunity for reconnecting and reflecting with other departments on how we did with goals we set and what we envision for the upcoming year. I am always impressed by others’ contributions to ideas and brainstorming, which often is not possible if we didn’t carve out this valuable time and provide a place for the creativity to flow between departments and our talented team Members.
Here are my top picks for making your retreats fun, productive, relevant and rejuvenating:
- Goal Setting – Review and forward thinking is key and you want to hear from each person on your team. In our retreats, we review:
- Thought-Provoking Group Discussion – Consider a specific message or topic you want to discuss and use it as a theme throughout the day. We like to show stimulating discussion videos early in the day on topics such as creativity, flow states, team building, goal setting, positive thinking and health to name a few. Check out YouTube and Ted Talks for ideas and inspiration.
- No Distractions – On the day of the meeting be sure to eliminate distractions so everyone can focus on the discussion items and each other. On our agenda, we build in specific times of the day to handle emails and calls. Establishing ground rules for participation is important as well to make sure you hear from everyone.
- Team Building – There are many fun “sharing” activities to build on the camaraderie in your office. We like to do activities such as “Guess Who I Am” where we share something about ourselves that many do not know about. We also share our personal goals for the upcoming year and take the time to acknowledge each other for contributions, skills or attributes we appreciate. It is always fun to learn something new about someone, support others in their personal goals and take pause to acknowledge our teammates.
- Leadership Inspiration – Want an inspired team? It starts from the top down. Teams want to feel connected to their leader’s message and vision. We always have Robert and Sandy join our meeting to share their insight, what inspires them and what their vision is for the coming year. The result is a reconnection to a bigger vision outside of our personal roles.
- Each person’s professional goals (skill-building activities, professional development or projects)
- Departmental goals
- Previous year’s goals and accomplishments
- Carry-over projects that are still relevant
- New goals
- Follow Up Meetings – Mid-year retreats work well at keeping goals and the feeling of connectedness alive and well. Monthly and quarterly reviews with specific departments is especially useful to keep those activities top of mind, moving along and allows you to be more nimble at making adjustments if needed before too much time lapses.
These are just a handful of things we do to make our retreats more meaningful and to create a sense of community within our organization. What ideas can you share that make for a great retreat in your organization? We’d love to hear about them!
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555
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