Brennan McEachran. September 17th Tweet This. A few weeks ago we finished another company retreat. It was our best one yet. Then I decided to dig deeper and do you one better: a retreat tell-all. What spurred the first one? We just had an influx of new employees and some pretty intense goals to hit. We wanted to ramp up our new team as quickly as possible.
SoapBox is located in Toronto, so we have some options. People thought three hours was too far. However, we agreed that there is something to changing environments, getting people out of their elements, and creating opportunities to bond over shared experiences.
Algonquin is amazing. I love the landscape, the environment. And a lot of people on our team would otherwise never go and see it and experience it. Do activities, lunch, work, etc. Create natural variance. What are your rain plans?
Will you just power through? What about lightning? Make sure the venue can handle food and dietary restrictions on their own. There will be times where everyone is starving. Make sure food can magically appear. In terms of choosing a date, we keep it simple: early in the summer, we send a Google form with a couple to choose from and let the team vote. Weekends are sacred for family time and people might need a weekend to recover If you are planning one as physically intense as ours.
Look out for holidays and long weekends. Communicate that upfront. Get that at the same time. What do you want your team to come back feeling or thinking? Charged up? Thinking Bigger? You pick.
Everything you do should be connected to that. This is the element of the retreat that gets the puzzlers and riddlers really excited.
A few weeks before the retreat, once we get the dates sorted out, the GameMaster takes over. They might randomly take over the screen during an all-hands. They might send out an email here or there. They orchestrate riddles and challenges to solve in the office that get everyone to find their team, and earn points in the process. Then they get harder.
Usually they do by some folks working together. Eventually people discover their teams and they need to solve the puzzles together. One year, there were shirts hidden all over the office. This year, the TV screens in each meeting room showed hints about who was on what team. Either way just find your team and prove to Kudzu Brewing Company GameMaster you figured it out. Make that the answer to a riddle.
Forget carpooling. Forget a coach bus: we take a classic yellow school bus up to a kids camp. We get everyone to the office at the crack of dawn, give them coffee and donuts, and put them on a bus for three hours.
This is the first of a couple postcard moments you want to create: yellow school bus in the middle of downtown, good coffee waiting for the team, breakfast snacks and stressing about the last person to arrive or else we will leave, no joke. You could try and make it productive…but let people talk and enjoy themselves.
Especially if you have coffee on board. Honestly, some people would prefer every 30 minutes. Let people know when the pit stop is and let them act like adults. People forget about it, but one of the best ways to bond with people is to break bread. Food is a key moment. There is no time when the team is quieter than when they are hungry and eating. This is the chance to remind them of the Annual Company Retreat, the goals, and what they need to do and when they need to meet again.
Embrace it and plan around it. They had to canoe over an entire lake, hit up a few key checkpoints and complete a challenge activity to get a stamp on their race card.
There is also a time constraint, so you have to be strategic with your time doing all the mandatory checkpoints and as many elective ones as possible before racing back. The checkpoints serve a couple purposes: ensure the teams know the time and how to get back; make sure everyone is safe; keep them hydrated with water or give them an opportunity to enjoy the canoe ride with a few beers. The race is for points. This is the physical part of the retreat.
It lets certain team members shine. The teams get back. The weather is great. There just happens to be an hour or two before dinner is ready. They walk up to the dock, the lake and view is perfect, and between the two Adirondack chairs are couple of coolers full of ice with some cold drinks in it.
Not a swimmer? We all have stories of what our teams did Cone Manufacturing Company who did something great or silly or heroic. Natural bonding. You should do that. What time are we meeting at the campfire?
What time should people wake up tomorrow? Some people might go to bed early, some people might stay up around the fire, some may go down to the dock and look at the starlight night sky. The morning of day two always starts with a cooking challenge. Between the riddles, the Noodles And Company Thai Hot Pot and this cooking challenge, we find it gives everyone something they can contribute Jeffrey Jewelry Company on the team.
It makes sure everyone gets up early. First full team to arrive gets their choice of Annual Company Retreat. The last team to arrive usually gets the worst kitchen. Each team gets a barrel of essentials, and then can pick one item from five categories like protein, starch, fruits, etc.
Each team pitches their breakfast Conroe Moving Company the judge, and then we all eat while the judging occurs. Points are awarded for taste, presentation and Ruth And Company. Now, go back with your team and describe company-wide goals for 12 months from now.
What do we have to do Annual Company Retreat be halfway to our Time magazine cover? What do we have to do in the next 3 months to be on the right track? The key was to make each round fast. Our longest one was 10 minutes. People needed to quickly blurt out what they wanted. This is it. Tell people to pack up, clean up, and meet for lunch. Again, this is your chance to communicate, so do so:. Say thank you to the venue staff. Remember to bring extra swag for the venue staff! Finally hop on the bus and go back.
People will either be chatting or sleeping on the ride home. Ride home tip? Not everyone lives near the office, plan one or two other drop off points for people to get home faster. Every startup needs swag.
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