By Stephen Tweed
Well, Labor Day has come and gone, and most of us are getting back into the swing of things heading
One of the things many home care company leaders do in the fall is plan and organize a leadership
retreat for their top team. This is an opportunity to get off-site for a day or two to assess where you are,
think about where you are going, and talk about what you need to do to get there.
Over the past three decades, I’ve had the privilege of leading hundreds of leadership retreats for home
care organizations. My first published book was called Strategic Focus: A Gameplan for
Developing Competitive Advantage which was published in 1990. It described in detail our process for
planning, organizing, and facilitating leadership retreats. Since then, I’ve revised and modified the
process as we have learned more about making these retreats more effective.
Key Elements of an Effective Leadership Retreat.
As you think about bringing your top team together, here are some elements to consider in planning
- Set aside one or two days of uninterrupted time.
- Go off-site. Getting out of the office makes this event special.
- Develop a clear, specific agenda for your retreat.
- Make ideas visible. We use a technique called Storyboarding. You can also use a flip chart or
- Encourage participation by everyone on the team. There are no quiet observers.
- Separate Creative Thinking, or “brainstorming” from Critical Thinking. Brainstorming ideas is
easy; selecting only the best ideas is more difficult.
- Accurately document your discussions and decisions. Storyboarding helps you create a visual
summary of everything you discussed and the decisions you make.
- Plan for Implementation. Develop specific action plans with goals, action steps, target dates,
Who Should Be There
One of the most frequently asked questions from my clients when I lead a strategy retreat is … “who all
should we invite to participate?” The answer has two parts:
- Those leaders whose position gives them the vision to see where we want to go and what we
need to do to get there.
- Those leaders or team members who will be involved in implementing the strategies we
My suggestion is, to err on the side of including team members rather than excluding team members. We recognize that when you go off-site, someone needs to stay back to run the store, but the more people
you engage in this process, the better the outcome you will achieve.
What’s on the Agenda?
Here are some of the items I like to include on the agenda of a Home Care Executive Leadership Retreat.
- Assessment of where we are now.
- Review of last year’s and year-to-date metrics
- The Big Burning Issues we are facing that get in the way of growth.
- Vision – What do we see our company looking like five years from now?
- Values – What are the three core values that guide our decisions and actions? This becomes the basis for our company culture.
- Behaviors – What are the behaviors that go with each of our core values? How Do we recognize when we are living our values?
- Distinction – What makes us different from our competitors in our local marketplace? How do we know?
- Ideal Client – Who are our ideal clients? How do we define them? Where do we find them?
- Ideal Caregivers – Who is our ideal caregiver? How do we describe them? How do we find them?
- Role Clarity – What is the role of each person on our team? What are their key accountabilities?
- What are the metrics to measure performance?
- Systems – What systems do we need to put in place or refine to make our company run more effectively?
- Technology – What new technology do we need to explore to automate our business systems?
- Measurement – Do we have the right metrics to measure the performance of our company? Are we tracking these metrics consistently? What have we learned from analyzing our data?
As you can imagine, this is a huge agenda for a one- or two-day retreat. That means you need to
consider all of these questions and select the topics that will get you the clearest vision of where you are
going as a company and what you need to work on in the coming year.
Using an Outside Facilitator
One of the things I have learned over my decades working in corporate America, working with
organizations across healthcare, and most recently working with hundreds of home care companies is
this: The CEO cannot lead this retreat, being both the CEO and the Facilitator. If you want to be actively
involved in the discussions, I’d suggest you seriously consider using an outside facilitator to lead your
An experienced outside facilitator can help you:
- Establish the agenda.
- Facilitate the Storyboarding Process
- Keep the group focused on task.
- Enforce the rules for creative thinking and critical thinking.
- Ensure equal participation by all team members.
- Provide personal guidance to the CEO.
Planning Your Retreat
Now is the time to plan your fall home care leadership strategy retreat. Getting your folks together off
site and focusing time attention on the questions above will pay great dividends in the future. You will
have a shared vision of where you want to go with your company and what you want to do to get there.
Your team will feel like they are valued and appreciated as they contribute ideas and information. And
the outcome will be a focused action plan that you can use to grow your business and get ready for the
IF we can help, please reach out. Go to www.homecareCEO.com and click on the Contact Us button. Fill
out the contact form and we’ll get back in touch to schedule a phone conversation or a Zoom call.