Investing in a staff retreat

Investing in a staff retreat

Now that 2010 is in full swing, you’ve hopefully settled on several meaningful goals for your practice for this year. Perhaps you have plans to write and implement a new marketing plan, improve collections by a specific percentage, cross-train employees, or convert to an electronic medical records system. Now the question becomes how to engage the entire team in achieving your most important goals. One way to get everyone on board and excited about making good things happen is to hold a staff retreat. Here are three options to consider, depending on your available time and budget. A hybrid of these may turn out to be the best format for you.

Half day, on site, internally facilitated. The most basic staff retreat would be a half-day session when you close the office and hold the retreat on site. If you go this route, either forward your phones to the answering service or hire a temp to handle incoming calls so that everyone can participate in the retreat. Four hours is about the minimum investment of time if you plan to really dig into practice goals, map out a strategy, and begin assigning specific tasks. For this simple retreat format, you’ll need only a comfortable meeting space, a flip chart, refreshments, and someone who can volunteer to facilitate and keep the group on track in terms of the agenda and schedule.

Full day, off site, with or without a professional facilitator. When you decide on a full-day retreat, it’s probably best to take it off site. You may choose a local hotel or retreat center, or if the budget is tight and your staff is small enough, someone’s home might work if there is a space conducive to a day of brainstorming. If you’re not in a facility with food service, have morning and afternoon refreshments as well as lunch catered so that no one is distracted with playing hostess. If you go with the full-day format, consider hiring a professional facilitator (more on that in the next item).

Two days, off site, with a professional facilitator. If you invest in a longer retreat, it makes sense to also invest in a professional to run the meeting. A skilled facilitator (ideally one with medical practice knowledge) can walk your team through not only how to achieve your critical goals, but can also help you work on longer-term strategic planning, mission/vision/values statements, and assist in resolving any conflicts that might arise during your retreat.

No matter which retreat format you choose, follow-up is essential. Immediately after the retreat, someone should transcribe everything that was written on your brainstorming/planning flip charts into a document that everyone can access and reference. Follow-up should continue throughout the year during regular staff meetings or specially scheduled “mini retreats” to ensure that you are continually moving toward achieving your goals.