Here are some ways in which it is easy to waste £1,000s – either by spending too much or, worse, by failing to get the full benefit.
This is the most costly mistake. Don't settle for just 'having fun' or 'team building'. There is always more that you can achieve. But it is really important that you and your facilitator understand the outcome(s) that you want to achieve.
Your facilitator can help you clarify this. Ideally, you should have a full briefing meeting and certainly expect to agree a detailed programme. This will help the facilitator as well as you.
First, don't hold it in the office. If you possibly can, include an overnight stay. You will get great value out of the informal time spent together.
Do you want somewhere purely practical, or is luxury important?
Do you prefer daylight, fresh air – not all rooms have these.
Do you need break-out spaces, opportunities for outdoor activities?
A specialist conference centre or a hotel that specialises in meetings and conferences is more likely to have appropriate rooms, understand your needs and ensure that equipment works.
Special note: Never book your venue yourself. A specialist venue finder will get you the best venue at the least cost.
We are often approached by administrative assistants and even by temps. If you want a successful event you must be able to provide a clear brief and someone able to negotiate with authority – ideally the principal client or a PA who fully understands the team and their needs.
Once initial research and contact have been made, it is important that you become personally involved; small things can have a big impact and you need to keep an open communication channel with the facilitator.
The biggest benefit of using a facilitator is that you will be able to participate as a full member of the team and focus exclusively on your contribution.
Running a meeting diverts your attention, restricts your freedom and sets you apart. And it puts you in a position of power that can inhibit participation.
A good facilitator will bring structure and a fresh, independent approach. You will be able to relax and allow timings, content and progress to be managed for you.
Away days and corporate retreats are one of the best ways to improve team performance and develop strategy. However, it is easy to waste a lot of money. The biggest cost is the opportunity cost of people's time, as well as travel, venue and accommodation and the facilitator's fee.
And if you don't achieve what you set out for, it might be some months before you have another chance. So it is important to get it right.
Facilitation is a skill. A good facilitator brings structure, confidence and rapport building skills. They are responsible for managing pace, relationships and energy. They can advise you on venue, respond dynamically to developments and handle relations with the venue staff.
Make sure you choose someone who has the necessary breadth and depth of experience, strength of character and ability to understand your organisation and business.
You can find out more about how to organise an away day or corporate retreat by sending for our free guide.