OutSight Consulting

Why Retreats Matter

RJO NextGen 2016 - 2

Presenting to 2016 RJO NextGen

This past weekend I was with the NextGeneration (#RJONextGen) Conference in Chicago. Hosted by the Retail Jewelers Organization (RJO), NextGen is designed to help provide management skills and leadership experience to those moving up and preparing to take ownership of independent jewelry stores. I helped write the originally curriculum a few years ago and have been tweaking and presenting it annually since then.

As expected it was a group with lots of energy, ideas, experience and most importantly a ton of passion for their work. We do programs to help them increase their sales skills, knowledge of industry trends, examples of best practices, and an opportunity to mingle and connect with others in the same industry. The participants have similar goals and really enjoyed learning from each other.

One thing that came up was about doing staff retreats and using tools like personality inventories to help improve team dynamics. I was surprised that nearly no one was doing that annually, or at all! So my final workshop of the weekend I tweaked and made it about retreats.

For high performing teams it is important that you spend quality time getting to know each other. That can’t just be done on the sales floor, or over morning coffee, it must be intentional and focused. It also has to be more than just a holiday party to celebrate the successes of the year. I brainstormed my opinion on some core retreat components.

Team Building – this is more than a trust fall. This is doing something to learn more about each other. I suggest a personality inventory like DISC or something similar (MBTI, Colors, etc.). They don’t have to take a ton of time, and don’t have to cost a ton, but I do recommend hiring a facilitator for it. Hey it could be a staff person from your local college Career Services Office or a local team building coach.

Goal Setting – end of the year parties celebrate success, but when do you get team input on goals? Periodically (annually or other) you need to ask your team for their personal goals, share your goals, and develop consensus on goals. This is when you can see who is the most invested in what you do, they will be excited to share goals for organizational success.

Breaking Bread – I think meals are critical. Once you break bread with someone you just become instantly closer, it is an important human tradition. I recommend also making the meal a process… get everyone to cook, to help prep, to work together. It is a good way to let members without management positions in the office take control of something and be the boss. Make the newest person in the company in charge of the meals and have them give orders.

RJO NextGen 2016 - 1

The 2016 RJO NextGen graduates

Brainstorming – get ideas from the team, on anything and everything. It is surprising how often people hold back good ideas until they are asked. Brainstorm about doing inventory, ordering, all the way to how you design displays and cover everything from the mundane to off the wall ideas. Get everyone involved, get their ideas, and make them feel valued.

Having Fun! – Do something fun, and make it simple. Play some board games, stay up all night and do something that everyone will enjoy and have fun bring together. Work can be fun, and having a good time with your work starts at retreats.

Thank you to the RJO NextGen crew for a great weekend! Thank you for reminding me of an important aspect of leadership and development. I hope you took a lot away from the conference, I know I did!

I do some retreat facilitation, and if I can’t do it I can help you find another local facilitator. If you haven’t done a retreat in over two years… you need to do one ASAP. Get it planned, and make it worthwhile!

Reminds me I need to plan a retreat with my team!

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Higher Education and Leadership Development