Workshops and retreats are all great avenues for personal and team growth and development. As a workshop and retreat facilitator, I can witness what’s insightful and what the participants are learning.

Preparing for active learning

When the event is hosted for a specific team, the team members bring up challenging conversations/issues, learn new ways of working together, understand different perspectives, learn new approaches, etc. The workshops/retreats are often tiring experiences for the participants but in the best ways.

People leave these events with new insights and ideas for action and sometimes go inspired to do new things.

And then what?

  • Do we return to our offices/desks the next day and behave as we did before the event?
  •  Or do we get too caught up in the day-to-day to make any significant change in ourselves or our team?
  • Perhaps the urgent requests we missed during the workshop/retreat distracted us with immediate action.

Unless we are being intentional, the answer to these questions is often ‘yes.’

When I am designing a workshop/retreat for an organization, there are two questions I ask the team that help them think through continued learning: 

  • How will you keep the learning alive after a company workshop/retreat? 
  • How will you build accountability into this process to ensure that this is not a one-and-done process?

Plan to continue the learning ahead of time

By planning to continue the learning before the event even happened, the team could put things into place to keep the learning alive. Here are some examples: 

Choose or ask for a lead/leads to champion the shifts/actions. This person only does some of the work, but they will champion the new learnings and keep them in the forefront.

  • Add a standing agenda item for weekly or monthly meetings. Remember, those meeting agendas are likely packed full already. The item that will get “pushed for time” is probably the item on continued learning. Please make sure you settle on a cadence to include this topic when it isn’t skipped. It’s better to talk about the issue once per month and commit to that than to add it to a weekly agenda where it is skipped most of the time.
  • Conduct a formal or informal survey to see how well the team is progressing in the shifts or actions.
  • Set up quarterly lunch-and-learn for employees not part of the workshop/retreat so lessons/insights are brought to others in the company.
  • Communicate more broadly with the organization or department what came out of the event and the actions being taken. Communicate regularly with updates.
  • Create informal meetings for individuals to continue learning with one another on a topic.
  • Add Learning and Development to performance measures in evaluations.

Taking a few hours or a full day out of a team’s busy schedule for a workshop or retreat is a great start

It allows team members to focus on essential topics. These topics typically tie directly into individuals’ perspectives, how they collaborate as a team and how the group operates together.

This work can positively impact the team, organizational results, and employee engagement. However, to get the most out of the learning, you must keep it alive.

Upfront planning on how your specific team will continue the learning is critical to truly getting the most out of the important work you are putting in.