How a Retreat Can Keep Your Techs Engaged in the Field


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No matter what type of business you’re in, getting away for a retreat can be a refreshing change. Whether the focus is on team building skills, customer service lessons, or just relaxing, time away can bring your techs back refreshed and more engaged.

If you’re having trouble keeping your technicians engaged, a retreat can allow everyone to regroup and go back to work with a fresh perspective that will in turn engage customers. However, the retreat must have specific steps and be done with a purpose or you’re just wasting your time.

Step # 1: Figure Out Your Goals
Kris Boesch, CEO of Choose People, is devoted to improving the culture within companies. She pointed to the importance of planning for your retreat. “A great retreat requires thoughtful preparation and consideration of how the time will be best leveraged. You may need preparation homework, reflection time, small group discussions, or non-group think brainstorming.”

Gallup research found that if an employee is engaged and thriving in the company environment that they’ll be 59% less likely to leave to work for another company in the near future. Since finding and training qualified HVAC techs can be a costly proposition, it makes sense to consider employee training, engagement, and team spirit as an important goal of your retreat.

Step # 2: Plan the Retreat
Once you’ve settled on a goal, plan out every aspect of your retreat, even free time. This will keep employees busy throughout the retreat and ensure that the time is spent in the best way possible to further develop your team.

Dan Weedin, a Seattle-based business growth consultant and author of Unleashed Leadership helps facilitate company meetings and retreats. Since 2005, he has worked with over 300 small and medium sized businesses. “While planning a retreat, the one thing companies should do is assure that minimum objectives are set along with metrics. Too many times objectives are in place without metrics to gauge success.”
Having some basic measuring systems in place will come in handy later when you analyze the success of your retreat.

Step # 3: Hosting the Retreat
When it comes to the actual retreat, you’ll want to do more than plan a few meals and a bunch of activities. Each part of your retreat should have a very specific purpose. While it’s fine to give attendees some down time to just enjoy a break from work, it is also important to plan strategic activities to accomplish your goals for your employees.

Which Activities Are Best
Weedin shared that the number one challenge for most CEOs in getting employees on the same page is dealing with diversity of agendas. “All employees have a personal agenda along with distinct personality styles,” he said. “For a CEO, it’s most difficult to find a way to appeal to all of them with one message.”
Weedin also advises incorporating fun and humor into the agenda or people will lose interest quickly.
Team Building Meal Ideas
If you’re going to use every opportunity to forge relationships and build cooperation among employees, then you shouldn’t overlook meal times. While you don’t want to structure every second of every day, creating the opportunity for engagement at one meal a day is a smart move.
For example, you could ask employees to sit in assigned seats for lunch. Lunch could also be a time when you have ice breaking activities on the table, so that employees can get to know one another better. Try to team up people who can benefit from one another’s skills or who normally would not sit together.
Activities that require them to cooperate can forge relationships. For example, you could do something as simple as dumping the pieces of a puzzle onto the table and have a race to see which table can put their puzzle together first.
Leadership Matters
Who you choose to lead your team at the retreat can make a big difference between success and failure. Kris Boesch recommends being very careful about the person you choose to lead workshops and team building activities. “Think it through and make sure you have an engaging, high-energy facilitator to rally the team to the finish-line.”
Don’t get tied into just one facilitator, though. You may need to enlist multiple leaders to accomplish your goals for the retreat.
Step # 4: After the Retreat
Once the retreat is over, it is tempting for everyone to go back to business as usual. Ideally, however, employees will implement what they’ve learned at the retreat and become more engaged with customers and with one another.
Weedin points out that creating accountability for after the retreat. Create smaller teams that hold weekly or monthly meetings, for example. “Without accountability, all those ideas are doomed not to succeed.”
A well-organized and focused retreat can help people overcome their fears and lack of confidence. Employees will get to know one another better and feel more comfortable approaching one another with questions and help. Coming up with some shared goals allows employees to all work toward the health of the company. Plus, retreats can be just plain fun.

Lori Soard

Posted In: Management

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