Corporate Meetings and Retreats. Managing Expectations.

We just completed our annual on-site corporate meeting/retreat where we flew in employees from around the country for a 3-day meeting. Our goals were to bring the staff together for team building and fun, communicate (reiterate) the company strategy/vision and train everyone on the new HRmarketer site we are launching next month.

The highlight of our meeting was a keynote speaker we hired, Terri Schneider. Terri is a world world class athlete and she spoke about the importance of team, what it means to be a team member, risk taking, mental endurance and achieving exceptional performance. Terri knows her stuff. She is an adventure racer, triathlete, and ultrarunner and has been featured on the Discovery Channel, USA Network, high profile talk shows, news segments, and popular outdoor publications highlighting her personal experiences in triathlon, ultra running, mountaineering and arguably the most grueling sport on the planet; adventure racing. She has competed and climbed in over 35 countries, raced internationally in 7 Eco-Challenge® Expedition Competitions, competed in the ESPN X-Games Adventure Race and the Raid Gauloises in Tibet and Nepal including some 100 mile endurance runs and 22 Ironman Triathlons. Here are some emails I received from our staff about Terri's presentation at our meeting:
I appreciated Terri’s honesty and authenticity in sharing the hard lessons she learned and the realities of being a member of a team. Anyone can apply her insights for successful teamwork whether you are in the athletic world, corporate world, or any type of group you find yourself working with!

I would recommend Terri’s motivational program to any group where team-work is involved, large or small. Her reach-out-and-grab-you style and her tales of team-work that her life depended on at times, along with her spectacular photos were really amazing and truly awe inspiring.

Terri's presentation on teamwork was amazing. Her personable and conversational style inspired us to excel - not only focus on our individual strengths, but to also have the courage to reveal our weaknesses in order to build a stronger, more productive team.

I enjoyed Terri's presentation and her own personal stories that served to illustrate her message. She's a truly remarkable person and hearing her speak about the highs and lows of her life and her races was itself valuable. We operate in teams in nearly every facet of our lives, and the extremes of Terri's experience help bring into sharp relief the very same dymanics at play in our work and personal experiences with others. She provided a great shared experience for our group.
If you need a great speaker to motivate your team and give them something they can use both professionally and in their personal lives, contact Terri. I highly recommend her.

At our meeting, I realized the goal of any corporate retreat/meeting should be to bring company staff together to (a) reiterate the company culture - not done with slides but actions of the management and other staff, (b) clearly communicate the company vision/strategy and (c) information exchanges. What company meetings/retreats will not do is solve any culture or personnel problems. If you have a turnover problem, poor management or ineffective teams, no speaker, consultant or team building exercise at a retreat will solve it. These are human resource and management issues that need to be dealt with during recruitment, onboarding, day-to-day / performance management and other employee feedback mechanisms.

I also realized that you should not expect the "high" that everyone gets at a meeting to last when team members settle back into their day-to-day jobs. It is unrealistic to expect this to happen on auto-pilot. And that's OK. What's important, and again the responsibility of management, is to build from what was accomplished at the meeting. Use these meetings to strengthen the culture, debrief with team members and talk about the event - what did you learn, how will you apply it, etc. Ask a lot of questions. Listen. And then set objectives and goals that are tied to the company's vision and make sure your team knows their roles and how they will contribute.

Posted by Mark Willaman

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