Planning a team retreat? Start here.

A startup founder just asked me what he and his fellow team leaders should do on their one-day leadership retreat. Here’s what I wrote to get him started.
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i’d strongly recommend giving yourselves structure + goals for the day. why are you taking this time off? what do you hope to accomplish / walk away knowing? how will it have an impact on your company?

give the day a theme. is it scaling (team and product)? is it leadership and values?

set 2-3 goals, i.e., vision alignment, company + team goal-setting.

give yourself some rules of the day, i.e., all other topics are off the table (as in, no distractions), no cell phones during work sessions, etc. mostly things that will help you focus and make the best of your time.

what do you need to do to prep? read an article? answer a question, i.e., what will it take to get to x users / $x.

for the day of, i’d recommend a balance between work and bonding / connecting.

have an agenda. start with something high-level / birds’-eye-view, like having the CEO do a year-in-review where he goes over big wins / pitfalls / etc. just to get you all on the same page about what you’re doing and why. have a deep work session, where you focus on your goal / questions you’re trying to answer. in other words, work through the how of getting to where you want to be. strategy, team culture / members, etc.

you should walk out of there with very concrete next steps and a plan for communicating what you did that day to the team. the worst thing you can do is have all the leaders of the company leave for a day, come back, and not even acknowledge what went on + start giving new direction / ideas to the team. transparency is super key for when you return. what did you learn? decide?