PLAN, THEN PARTY
When I worked in Reading we did an annual retreat. We adjusted the retreat throughout the years, varying the number of days, location and even the goals of what we wanted to cover. We eventually started having pre-retreat meetings to cover a lot of topics before we left the ballpark and then we did our brainstorming and team building off site. I loved going away for our staff retreat. This allowed us to step away from our daily responsibilities, spend time together, brainstorm and discuss the season while everything was fresh in our minds. We talked a lot! We went over the good, the bad and the ugly. We left with pages of ideas and plans for execution. Stepping out of the normal routine enabled different parts of our brains, allowing us to create new ideas, generate momentum, and move forward as a team.
TEAM BUILDING 101
I want to emphasize the “teambuilding” aspect of the retreat. It can change the way you relate to each other and work together as a team. As silly as it sounds something magical happens when you spend that much time together. The "Play time" is fun so you don’t realize you are building inner office bonds and sometimes discussing ideas until the wee hours of the night. In his interview Parney mentioned that the retreat can be a time to address any inner office issues you might have had throughout the season and reinforce your team mentality for the next year. In other jobs you don't have to like everyone you work with. I don't think that's true in baseball so a time to bond and correct issues is important.
SET UP A PLANNING TEAM
It takes a lot of preparation to put together an effective retreat so I'd recommend dividing responsibilities. A planning team builds ownership of the retreat, generating a body of individuals who support the retreat’s agenda and feel responsible for its success.
Planning Team To Do List:
• Create Your Meeting agenda and set realistic goals for what you want to achieve at your meetings.
• Decide your menu/meals. Make sure you have brain food available....aka snacks.
• Develop your social activities and plan for team building.
RETREAT PREPARATION TIPS:
• Make your staff aware of what will be discussed and relevant information that they’ll be responsible for. The more you do in advance the smoother talks will go and the more you'll accomplish.
• Come with numbers from your season; bring attendance and budget reports, Game day analysis, etc so you can have a complete discussion without question marks or things to look up later.
• Pick a space where you can move around and get your hearts, souls and brains working at full capacity.
• Start to prepare for your follow-up before the retreat even begins. You’ll be more likely to see the impact with a plan for execution.
• Look for Trade opportunities. Whether you stay in town and look for meeting rooms and activities or book travel you might be able to defer some costs with trade agreements.
• Board games or cards
• Scavenger hunt (can be done for pure enjoyment or at another ballpark as a research mission)
• "Would you rather" questions
• Personality tests
• Olympics: 3 legged races, wheel barrow races
• Paint ball or laser tag
• Enjoy the outdoors at the beach, on a lake, or hiking a mountain
• Visit Other ballparks
• Visit places and participate in family activities that compete with you: bowling, mini golf, comedy club, race cars…etc
• 2 Truths and a Lie: Have your staff prepare these in advance to read to the group for everyone to guess. This is a fun opportunity to learn about each other and bond over funny stories.
• Favorite songs (prepare an office soundtrack for the later use. This is also a great way to build your ballpark playlist). You could also talk about movie clips and do your best impressions of famous movie lines (possibly useable at the stadium)
• Keep It Simple: Do jumping jacks or a push up contest.....I'm not kidding!
INTERACTIVE BRAIN STORMING:
• List things that you do currently that; you should do more of, do less of, keep exactly the same
• New/ doable idea
• Impossible ideas that would never work.......or could they?
• Ideas to draw more families
• Things to do as an office (This provides ideas for future activities and demonstrates your competition)
• Promotions and Theme Nights
• New novelty items for your team store
• Useable giveaways
• Opening Day ideas
• Ideas to WOW your clients
• Non-baseball events to host at the ballpark
OTHER BRAINSTORMING EXERCISES:
• What if it rained at every game.
• What if only women came to your ballpark.
• What if only kids or senior citizens attended your games.
• What is you allowed dogs at every game.