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Retreating from Retreats: Why Employees Hate Them

Meetings are eating us alive. Some reports indicate that workers spend as much 40% of their workday in meetings. It’s little wonder why workers would balk at a workplace retreat. Retreats often bring the worst parts of meetings—redundant, unclear, non-collaborative communication—in an elongated format. Rob Kramer of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill points out some of the ways retreats can go wrong, and helpful guidelines to keep them on track.

He relates a story of a troubled campus where he was hired to facilitate a retreat: “The staff had separated into fiefdoms, morale was low, and there had been frequent turnover with their administrative managers. The associate dean had hoped that the staff members could have a facilitated retreat, without management, to talk through their concerns and struggles, and develop a list of suggestions, changes, and improvements for themselves and the larger organization.” However, on the day of the retreat, the associate dean gave the surprise announcement that she would be watching the proceedings from behind a two-way mirror! Needless to say, an environment of trust and productive dialogue was not achieved. Employees feeling that their perspectives and contributions are respected and valued is vital to any discussion. Kramer offers helpful guidelines and suggestions. Read his entire article here.