It’s that time of year again – time for your OFF-SITE RETREAT (or ADVANCE)!

Executive Assistants and Directors of Operations (or Ops Bosses, as we call them!) are often the ones in charge of planning (or supporting the planning) of their team’s annual off-site retreat or business planning day. If you’re wondering what to do at your advance, or you’ve run out of ideas from past years, here are a few you might consider:

  • Choose a Theme – This can be either for the retreat or for the upcoming year. Before you do this, you need to hone in on your One Thing. What is the ONE THING you want to get out of your retreat? Or – what is the ONE THING your team will focus on in 2019? One of the teams I coach has a theme going this year of “151”. Their goal is 151 units. When they hit 151, a round of Bacardi 151 shots will unofficially go down.
  • State of the Company Address – This is usually given by the team leader. You can have them do a “2018 in Review”. Some things you might include are what your goals are this year, where you are year-to-date, and where your business has come from. In addition to production numbers (units, volume & GCI), some teams also review profitability, average commission percentage, average sales price and a host of other stats. (You as the EA or DOO can prepare all of this for your rainmaker). You might also note any significant “wins” the team had – maybe you contributed a certain amount to KW Cares or to another charity, or you added new people to the team, or someone celebrated a big “workaversary” or an admin got their license. The rainmaker should also take this opportunity to “recast” the Vision – why we started in the beginning and where we’re going.
  • Awards – After you do the “State of the Company”, you might give out your 2018 Team Awards. Obvious categories would include Top Producer, Rookie of the Year (or Rising Star), Ultimate Team Player and Customer Service Star. You can also get creative and give awards for Most Zillow Reviews, Tech King (or Queen), Biggest Ray of Sunshine, Most Caffeinated, Best Dressed or Fashionista of the Year, Best Shark (Top Negotiator), and/or Most Likely To Win A Script-Off.
  • MVVB – Mission, Vision, Values, Beliefs. If you don’t have these for your team, a retreat can be a great place to start that discussion. If you already have your MVVB, this is a terrific time to update it and/or reinforce it. Sometimes there is a gap between what is written down as the MVVB and actually bringing the written words to life in our actions. Does your team’s video match the audio? How do you keep that alive as you move through your year?
  • Goal Setting – Some teams set goals ahead of time individually, then share and pool them at the retreat to get to the team goals. Some teams set team goals together at the retreat and then drive their individual goals from there. (The reasoning behind each train of thought is fodder for a whole different blog post. LOL). The general idea either way is that you walk out of the retreat with clarity, unity and excitement about what you’ll do in 2019. I HIGHLY recommend doing a team 1-3-5 (or GPS – 1 Goal, 3 Priorities, 5 Strategies for each Priority) and that someone be assigned accountability to each line of the GPS. You should have your GPS posted in the office and review it as a team at least monthly. Ask the team to come prepared with their individual business & personal goals, what they learned this year, and their biggest accomplishment.
  • Vision Boards – This can be a VERY powerful exercise. Turn on some music. Go old-school and spread out the supplies (poster board, stickers, magazines, scissors, markers & glue sticks). People can chat while they create their vision board. The power comes when you’re finished and each person takes a turn in sharing their board, because what they are talking about are their hopes, dreams, and the most important things in their lives. It’s often a very moving and intimate peek into what’s meaningful to people. What better way to get to know each other and each other’s goals so we can help each other get there faster?!
  • Team Building – We like to break up our day with some sort of game or activity. One year we did an activity tied into our mission statement. Our mission statement is “Changing Lives For The Better“. When everyone arrived for the day (off-site), we told them our theme was “Mission (im)Possible”. We pulled out the iPad (modern version of tape recorder) and played the Mission Impossible theme. Then our rainmaker said, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the $100 bill we will give you, go out, change someone’s life for the better, and be back in your seat in one hour. As always, should you or any of your Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck.” Everyone accepted the challenge. We then gave each person $100 and they bolted out the door. When everyone returned, we shared stories. It was pretty phenomenal to see what each person did. All were totally different and very reflective of what was important to each person on the team.Another team building activity we have done is “Two Truths and A Lie”. Each person makes three statements about themselves – two are true, one is made up. The others have to guess which is the lie. Whomever gets the most right wins a prize. We had lots of longevity on my team and we were still surprised to find out all different kinds of crazy truths about each other, including that one person had competed professionally in tennis.
  • Brainstorming – There are lots of topics you can brainstorm and a retreat is a nice place to do that because you are outside your “normal” environment. Work first at quantity over quality – meaning the goal is to come up with as many ideas as you can before weighing & debating which are the best. This fuels creativity and helps you stretch outside the box. AFTER you come up with quantity, you can go back and whittle down to the ones you want to implement. Examples of brainstorming topics are marketing ideas, client events, ideas for your “touch” program, what should we do more of, what should we stop doing, or how can we generate more listings.
  • Guest speaker – A guest speaker is a fantastic way to add energy & expertise to your day. We like to do a Gary Keller-style interview with people who have mastery in other fields outside of real estate. One year we invited the Director of Learning for Discovery Channel (who also is an award-winning musician). We interviewed him about being learning-based and the things that took him to mastery level in his music career. He brought his guitar and played for us after the interview. Another year we invited the business reporter for WTOP, the Washington DC news radio station. He had just completed a Triathlon while in the midst of a cancer battle. We interviewed him about grit and what that looked like. Both of these speakers were part of our sphere of influence. I bet if you go through your sphere and past client list, you’ll find some pretty incredible people who would be happy to spend time inspiring & teaching your team.Another idea for speakers is to ask the top agents in your company (or any company). One year we had both Lance Loken and Haro Setian Skype in. They are two of KW’s top team owners and were incredibly gracious. Our team loved having a Q&A session with them. If you want to learn something new, talk to the folks who are already doing it at the highest level. All you need to do is ask. Folks who are succeeding at such a high level are typically people who come from contribution and they are often happy to help you out. You might also reach out to your coach. They are more than invested in your success and would likely be happy to contribute.
  • Dinner – Our team used to close out our retreat with a dinner, including spouses & significant others. Our support system is vital to our team’s success and we felt it appropriate to thank them. We have since evolved into doing this on a different date because it can make for a really long day. Either way, it’s nice to cap off the retreat with time to “let down your hair” and celebrate.

These are just a few of many ideas for an annual off-site. Before you decide which to implement, it’s important to articulate what your exact purpose is for the day. True Ops Bosses will take a look at our “5 Steps To Create A System” blog post and go through that exercise first. Then, you can set about creating an agenda for an awesome off-site retreat.

When you do, we’d love to hear YOUR ideas

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