Small Meetings, Big Objectives: Creating Impactful Executive Retreats

stonewall resort executive retreat

Executive retreats are the Teslas of meetings.

They’re designed for a company’s C-suite, meaning the budget and the expectations are sky-high. These off-site team-building and strategy sessions are vital to building a strong, collaborative team dynamic that impacts the entire company, its employees and its future. So, planning one requires more than just a firm grasp on the logistics.

What’s the secret sauce behind planning an executive retreat that is both posh and productive?

How to Create Impactful Executive Retreats

With such crucial (and in some cases, confidential) items on the agenda, sophisticated planners have a few tricks up their sleeves to guarantee goals are met and attendees leave motivated and charged for the year ahead:

Pow Wow With Your CEO Often

Your CEO is the ultimate client, so get to know all the subjects they want to tackle, the goals they want to meet and the details they need included. Agree on a theme that aligns and solves the company’s biggest concern that year, then build the entire program around that.

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Make a Statement with Your Venue Choice

Executive retreats are game-changers for a company. This is where executive officers lay the foundation for the company’s success for the upcoming year. Meaning major decisions are laid out, with major impact to follow. To get your execs in the right mindset, find a venue that stands out to such a high-powered team. A place that will inspire and energize them. Meeting a few blocks away from the office is not going to hit the reset button or spark much excitement.

Also, consider your executive team’s need for exclusivity and privacy to discuss sensitive issues. Resorts with conference centers are perfect for these scenarios, offering just the right amount of space to eliminate scrutiny, while also offering a peaceful hideaway for fresh ideas to sprout.

Create Memorable Moments to Socialize

Trust and teamwork are rarely built in the boardroom alone. Yes, the group is there to dig into important business strategies and optimize their processes, but don’t forget the other major reason they’ve gone off-site: to foster camaraderie and strengthen the team.

The best executive team-building ideas are activities that suit a range of fitness levels and incorporate either problem-solving or a bit of friendly competition. For most executive teams, light outdoor activities work best, such as sailing, golf, hiking. Culinary challenges are big with executive groups, as well.

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Jumpstart Creativity Early

What do companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and Uber have in common? Innovation, of course. Innovation is driven by creativity. When companies create space for creativity, their team members are able to tackle complex problems and find innovative solutions.

Finding ways to jumpstart the team’s creativity from the get-go is essential to planning a successful executive retreat. Start things off with a collaborative, outdoor scavenger hunt or get the group into the kitchen together for a hands-on cooking competition. Doing something a little out of the ordinary is a great way to disrupt routines and get those creative juices flowing!

Build in Free Time

What sets a corporate retreat apart from your typical conference or meeting is the “retreat” factor. Having the rare opportunity to slow things down a bit is extremely appealing to busy executives — that’s part of why regular retreats are such a vital component to any successful business strategy.

The best venue for a corporate retreat will have plenty to offer groups in terms of rest and relaxation. This is why resort conference centers surrounded by nature are coveted by executive groups. In addition to the fresh air to revive and spark creativity, they give executive teams the right amount of mental breaks away from any tensions or clutter back at the office.

The funny thing about scheduling free time is that this is often where the most magic happens. When team members are given this freedom, it’s surprising how often they’ll choose to stick around instead of heading straight for the pool! Don’t be surprised to find attendees wanting to revisit an earlier idea or simply socialize independently. Ultimately, the most successful executive retreats strike a balance between the business agenda, teambuilding activities, and downtime.


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