Monday, March 25, 2024
HomeFinancial AdvisorHow To Bring A Team Together For A (First-Time, In-Person) Retreat

How To Bring A Team Together For A (First-Time, In-Person) Retreat

For the advisor leading a virtual team, the day-to-day can offer a rewarding blend of flexibility, creativity, and productivity; at the same time, though, many of the benefits of remote work can also make it challenging to build a tight-knit team culture. For example, with flexibility comes fewer synchronous interactions, which in turn can result in less innovation, team bonding, and collaboration. While these criteria are not crucial to running a viable business, the reality is that they are still important factors in establishing a flourishing business, and face-to-face time in some form or another can be invaluable for building a strong, aligned team. This isn’t to say that founders should throw in the virtual towel and try to convince their team members to move to their “headquarters” (assuming there is, in fact, a brick-and-mortar building for team members to even go to); instead, holding an in-person team retreat once or twice a year can be a powerful way to bring the team together… without having to commit to an in-person office in the long term.

In this article, Kitces Managing Editor Sydney Squires shares how the fully virtual Kitces team constructs its biannual team retreats – and how other leaders of virtual teams can also plan and execute a retreat of their own.

As a starting point, to get the most out of a team retreat, it’s important to focus on 1 key theme driving the feeling that team members should leave with at the end of the retreat. This can be curated by assessing present team needs (which means the theme will likely change from retreat to retreat). For example, while a seasoned team who has just finished a busy tax season may need a retreat that leaves them feeling “recharged”, a more recently formed team full of new hires may benefit more from feeling “aligned” with each other and with the company’s vision. Starting with a theme is essential because it acts as a filter through which all other decisions can be made, from the type of venue that’s selected to the different activities planned out.

Whatever theme is selected as the focal point of the retreat, 4 key takeaways can further drive home the main idea: (Re-)Setting The Vision (where company leaders share the past, present, and future vision of the company); Learn Yourself, Learn Your Team (where team members learn about each other and how to work together more cohesively); Connect With Who You Serve (where team members meet with those whom they work with closely, ranging from clients to contractors to Centers Of Influence); and, perhaps most importantly, Be Humans Together (where everyone can enjoy their face-to-face time and bond as a team).

While a great deal of work is involved in the logistical planning of organizing a retreat (e.g., determining dates, selecting a location, finding a venue, purchasing flights, and all of the other ‘little’ things required to get a virtual team into the same place at the same time), a good checklist – like the downloadable template we provide – can be instrumental in helping leaders ensure that all arrangements are optimally organized. Generally speaking, beginning the retreat planning process at least 4 months before the retreat date usually provides for enough time to work through all of the logistical details and offers enough advance notice to team members – though the time may vary depending on the retreat activities and the level of the retreat organizers’ event planning experience.

Ultimately, the key point is that an in-person retreat can be a powerful tool to help a virtual team get many of the benefits of face-to-face collaboration without requiring the team to be physically together all the time. Additionally, with a cohesive theme guiding the agenda and a comprehensive checklist of logistical tasks, a team leader can delegate many of the organizational responsibilities that will contribute to a memorable and productive retreat!

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