Yes, I facilitate board and staff retreats. Lots of them. All staff retreats, smaller senior team retreat. But those who have retained me will tell you (references upon request) that the service I offer is broader than just facilitation. I call myself a “facilitator with benefits,” a careful and effective mix of facilitator and coach.
Sometimes I am hired simply to do a retreat. Sometimes I am working with an organization that needs a retreat and I suggest one. I offer my services and add value because of my knowledge and understanding of the organization. Another “benefit” to my facilitation work.
I do not see retreats as a collection of agenda items pre-set by the leader and handed to me. I partner with the leader and design a “journey” — where is the group starting and where do we want to take them. Often I am asked to lead a section of an agenda in which I have particular expertise. At one retreat, I did a seminar on the unique attributes of rapid growing non-profits, about time management, about how to run effective meetings.
Perhaps more importantly, my clients wil tell you that they do not roll their eyes at my icebreakers 🙂
EFFECTIVE MEETING MANAGEMENT
I’m working with one client currently to assess the standing meetings they have — to conduct a meeting inventory. Why is this group meeting regularly? What is the charge of the group? What are the expectations of participation in this group?
Far too often, people gather their direct reports or are a larger group together for a regular meeting without a valuable agenda, without a clear sense of the group overall charge. People work so much more effectively when they understand what is expected of them.
People complain about being in too many meetings. But what they should really complain about is being in unproductive meetings. Meetings in and of themselves are not useless.
BOARD RETREATS AND ASSESSMENTS
Working with boards is a priority for me. Boards so severely underestimate the role they play in the health of an organization. So sure, I do fundraising trainings but I also do full day retreats, I work with boards to develop their own annual goals. I have taken boards with no development committees and helped to build boards that raise money. I like to spend time explaining the difference between ticket sales and major donor fundraising. As someone who had never done any fundraising before I became a nonprofit executive director, my voice has unique credibility.
ORGANIZATIONAL AND DEPARTMENTAL GOALS
I believe that every senior staff member should have a one pager that s/he keeps right next to the desktop. What are the top 10 things that really matter? What are the “big things” that my boss and I agreed on as those goals by which my performance would be measured. When I look at my calendar at the start of every week, am I tying my time to those goals? If not, why not? How can I change that.
I’m also a firm believer in the interdependency of goals. I need my colleagues to meet my goals (so true of Development). I like senior teams to meet, to share their goals and to talk about how they intersect with one another, how each can work with the other to ensure the team’s success. Many of my clients benefit from these exercises. It helps frenetic staff members focused on the things that really matter..