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9 Steps to Planning a Successful Retreat for Your School’s Staff

Retreat for Your School’s Staff


There’s much to learn when planning a retreat — about yourself, your fellow staff members, and the mission and priorities of your school.

Planning a staff retreat has never been an easy task! Today, with schools fluctuating between in person, hybrid, and online learning, the task of planning a retreat for your staff may feel even more daunting. True Colors International is happy to share nine steps that simplify the planning process.

In addition to each of the practical steps that you’ll find below, we’ve incorporated some helpful insights applicable to the different personalities you may have on your team. For more than 40 years, True Colors has helped organizations understand the individual personality traits of their team members by translating complex temperament theory into practical information and actionable programs. We use colors — Orange, Gold, Green, and Blue — to differentiate the four central primary personality types.

The Four Primary Personalities:
  • Orange — Energetic, spontaneous, charming
  • Gold — Punctual, organized, precise
  • Green — Analytical, intuitive, visionary
  • Blue — Cooperative, compassionate, empathetic
  • Now, let’s dive into the steps that will help you plan an event you can be proud of!

1. Don’t try to do it all yourself

Delegate tasks when appropriate. It will prevent you from overload and, by involving participants and getting their input, it will make attendees more excited about the retreat. When participants have invested some of their own time and talent into making a retreat happen, they are generally more engaged. They even become ambassadors for the event, encouraging others to attend.

To get the best results, it’s smart to assign work that best fits your team members' personalities. Each True Color type has unique strengths that they bring to any project: Green plans it, Blue sells it, Orange starts it, and Gold finishes it.

2. Get a budget

Any effective, well-planned staff retreat is an investment in your team. Whether your budget is shoestring or champagne, or somewhere in between, you can plan a great event. Helpful needs to consider budgeting for: A venue, promotional and workshop materials, retreat activities, food and beverages, subsidized family/pet care for the day of the event, and retreat souvenirs such as a t-shirt or mug.

3. Begin with the end in mind

Who is participating? What is the purpose of your time together? What are the desired outcomes? These are excellent questions to get answers to while planning the retreat. Greens can be especially helpful with this task as they naturally want to know “why” things are happening and what the purpose of any group activity is. Use their curiosity to get to the heart of what your team needs to experience and learn on this specific retreat. Then you can utilize their findings as you plan appropriate programming.

4. Set a date and time that works

Will the date and time disrupt your team’s usual workflow? Will you need to close your school or office for a day? Try to include your entire team, even if it means hiring temporary staff to cover your office while you’re away or holding the retreat on a day when students are already off. Blues will want to make sure everyone on the team is included. Golds will want to make sure all of the usual operational details are covered. Factoring these concerns in when choosing your retreat’s date and time will help with attendance, participation, and overall buy in.

5. If in person, book a location off your campus

If you meet in person, try to make your retreat’s location comfortable, unique, and away from your usual work environment. Even if you have great facilities, consider another space. A neutral location helps create a psychologically safe environment for everyone by taking them away from the usual pressures of work.

A staff retreat is also just a fun reason to get everyone off your school’s campus. Oranges will be especially grateful for this since they love variety and action. Sitting in meetings all day isn’t appealing to them, but visiting a local botanical garden or zoo, for example, would be a welcome change of scenery.

6. If virtual, find ways to make the Zoom experience unique

Your retreat may need to be virtual, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be a unique experience. Think of ways to take your retreat beyond the usual video conferencing meeting. Consider fun ways to use polls throughout the event, perhaps trivia related to your school with digital prizes ready to be shared.

Another fun option is our True Colors Virtual Live Show. It can be customized for your event and will get participants engaged, laughing, and learning about specific personality types — a great way to start off any retreat and open the door to understanding one another better.

7. Test details in advance

Whatever your setting, make sure the details are handled and tested in advance. Questions to ask: Is their comfortable seating? Is the Wi-Fi connection solid and do we need to provide a password? Is there clear audio and bright lighting where needed? Are food and beverages planned for throughout the day? If there are any guests with special needs anticipated, are their needs accommodated for? Are at home distractions, such as children and pets, accommodated for?

8. Bring in outside facilitators

You want to make the most of the time you’ve set aside for this retreat. Simply having the boss lead a strategic planning discussion, while another staffer takes notes, will likely stifle creativity and collaboration — two factors imperative to successful strategic planning. True Colors can match you with a Certified Facilitator for your retreat and customize a program that meets your needs and your budget.

9. Measure your impact

Measure your impact! You’ve worked really hard to plan a successful retreat, but no matter how perfectly planned and executed there’s always something to learn. Don’t forget to design a participant survey as part of the planning process and be sure to get everyone to complete it at the end. Then you can review the results and use what you learn when planning your next staff retreat.

Don’t forget to enjoy the planning process

Follow these nine steps and you’re on your way to a successful event. And no matter how much you’re looking forward to the big day, don’t forget to enjoy the planning process. There’s much to learn when planning a retreat for your school’s staff — about yourself, your fellow staff members, and the mission and priorities of your school.

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