It’s that time of the year again. How can we make it better than before?
By TAMARA JAYNE
Where are we going? Are we even getting anywhere? Where are we now? Where can we be? What can we do to get to where we want to be?
These are questions senior leaders often have to ask themselves when it comes to executing the vision of an organisation.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s that time again where we reflect, discuss what could have gone better, what went well over the last 12 months and plan ahead for what’s to come.
However, making these discussions happens within the leadership team of a company and can be a hassle as we are bogged down with everyday tasks.
On top of that, these annual discussions can end up being temporary ‘firework’ solutions without long-term results.
As Joseph Tan, expert on culture and chief executive officer (CEO) of Leaderonomics Good Monday puts it:
“Matters of strategic importance are usually debated and discussed within the confinements of senior leadership – usually held in an island resort over three days and two nights. What normally happens is a predictable sequence of events:
- Plenty of flip-charts and slogans are created.
- There might even be a “battle-cry” or catchy phrase invented.
- The process of merchandising then takes place – badges, posters, campaigns, etc.
- Everybody gets excited. . .for a while.
- Gradually, the old ways start creeping back in.
- Time to plan for another retreat!
Strategic retreats fail for the simple reason that leaders are disengaged from their employees throughout the year.
So, what is tabled and discussed during the strategic sessions are favourite “hobby horses” and “pet ideas” with no grounding in grass-roots reality. Everyone leaves the wonderful retreats feeling good, but not feeling the ground.”
We know these times of reflecting and discussing are crucial to an organisation’s growth. But it’s important to know the struggles, stresses and challenges before coming up with ways to move forward.
How do we ensure that we get the most out of our retreats to drive us towards a better year ahead?
Look through an outsider’s pair of eyes
The challenge of organising these sort of retreats is that we often get caught up making decisions from within the team without an outsider’s perspective or an expert’s point of view.
Sessions may end up being long-winded with scattered opinions and temporary solutions because of constraints such as: the business model and strategy, processes and organisational structure, leadership, and culture.
Being in an office setting can also be a distraction rather than a good environment to reflect.
Getting away from additional “noise” (such as weekly duties and everyday tasks) will help people temporarily switch off and focus on what’s to come.
Sessions don’t need to be dry and brain wracking
“On top of running this company, you want us to plan a retreat that is fun?”
We hear you. We do not always have the luxury of planning these annual retreats let alone, a retreat that is fun and engaging for your team.
One of the famous situations Leaderonomics puts into play is a board game simulation where participants are separated in groups. They then need to plan a “hike up to Mountain Everest” with limited resources and multiple unknown obstacles along the way—this requires lots of strategic thinking and decision making.
As teams strive to win, observations will be made by the facilitators on how each team member interacts, the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the competitiveness – which are added into the debrief discussions to create greater self-awareness. The sessions are fun and exciting as participants compete and conceptualise.
It is important to see how an engaged team will benefit the company as a whole in the long run as opposed to a team that dreads annual retreats and look for ways to avoid it.
Long term, short term and everything in between
In spite of it all, we know that we need more than just wishful thinking and idealistic plans. Practical steps are needed and ways to know where exactly to start.
Leaderonomics uses a Diagnosis, Design and Deliver method. By firstly diagnosing what a company’s needs are, they are then able to customise strategies and look into ways to improve the business performance (whether it is through its people, culture, or business models).
What can we do?
Strategies are useless if there is no execution point. And executing is not enough when the right steps are not taken to produce solutions that can help grow your organisation to its fullest potential.
Leaderonomics plans a fun and simulated environment conducive for having these yearly discussions. With a pool of experts and people with years of experience from various industries, they are able to guide and advise companies on steps they can take to achieve their desired results.
Instead of long and dry discussions, real-life simulations are designed to engage the team and to help with the strategising and planning.
Leaderonomics Strategic Retreats are designed to meet your company where it’s at and to be the fuel to drive it to where it wants to be.
Need help to plan your company’s strategic retreat? Click here to find out more.
Tamara was previously an assistant editor and writer with Leaderonomics. She loves thought-provoking conversations over cups of tea. If she is not writing, you might find her hiking up a mountain in search of a new waterfall to explore.