Short-term and Long-term planning are important components to a growing and progressive work team. Have specific goals and work plans gives staff members a strong guideline for being efficient and productive. It can be challenging, however, to find the time to create solid and relevant work plans and that is where a good staff retreat or well-organized planning meeting comes into play. A well-coordinated and facilitated planning meeting can set the groundwork for a productive and functioning staff.
It is important to have the buy-in and input of every staff member from the beginning of the retreat or meeting planning process. Make sure that employees participate in choosing the retreat or meeting date and that individuals are able to identify problem areas and help plan the agenda. Of course, one or more staff need to take on the coordinating role, but having the buy-in from every participating staff member is key to ensuring the success of the process.
Prepare materials in advance and make sure staff members know what they each need to bring. It is actually a good idea to ask that each person be responsible for bringing something “to the table”‘”their updated job descriptions, work plans, budget suggestions, project reports, etc. By asking that each participant provide needed information, it further encourages 100% buy-in and participation. This also ensures that the topics covered will be relevant to the work being done.
Consider an agenda that assigns time limits to each topic so that the meeting can be even more focused and efficient. By creating a time schedule and sticking it to it, it shows that the group respects the content and each other’s time. If it is necessary to schedule follow-up work or a follow-up meeting to further delve into a topic, that is far better than going over or mismanaging the time set aside for topics, issues and the meeting.
Make sure that housekeeping is taken care of at the onset and that everyone knows where the restrooms, coffee pot, etc. are and be sure to provide for breaks, snacks, and basic participant comfort. Staff members will be better able to focus and concentrate, not to mention access their creativity and problem-solving, if all of the “basic needs” are accommodated.
Finally, make sure that there are good notes from the meeting and that the follow-up is detailed and useful. This means that the retreat or planning meeting actually produces work plans, goals, objectives, tasks, etc. that team members and/or employees can take with them to guide productive and efficient work.