9 Tips for Facilitating Small Team Building Retreats

Today, we’ll take a look at what it takes to pull off a highly effective team building or executive retreat for small teams.

My company, Executive Oasis International has designed and facilitated small team building and executive retreats for companies from Canada, the USA, and as far away as Malaysia, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Sudan. Along the way, we’ve fine-tuned a number of strategies to ensure that participants and their organizations get full benefit. The following strategies are highly effective with groups of 6 – 25 participants.

  1. Do your homework and be sure to customize the content and approach for the group.
    Generic won’t cut it for small groups. Since more personal attention is possible, participants will expect the facilitator to use examples that are targeted and relevant. Use participant profiles, surveys and even spot interviews to identify burning issues and concerns ensure that the examples and workbooks (if budget permits) are fully customized.
  2. Start with a meal in a private setting.
    Whether it’s lunch, afternoon tea or a private reception and dinner, dining together helps participants relax, get to know each other and bond.
  3. Give participants some “thinking time” before diving into discussions.
    For the first few discussions or group exercises, prepare key questions. Play quiet music and give participants time to think about the questions on their own before starting a discussion or group exercise.
  4. Break the group into pairs or trios for the first few exercises so that participants can gradually get to know each other and become comfortable sharing.
  5. Take the time to thoroughly debrief each exercise and discuss how it relates to the daily realities participants face at work.
    Ensure that you allocate a bit more time than usual for debriefing as participants are likely to really open up and share.
  6. Use a project that is relevant to team building content.
    If the group is an intact work team, use a real project that will continue after the retreat. Sharing a CSR project can also be effective.
  7. Build in some time for fun.
    It will help participants relax and become more comfortable with each other so that they will open up and share more.
  8. End with a thoroughly facilitated business application exercise.
    This will ensure that the group walks away with take-aways that are of tangible value and that can be used when they get back to work.
  9. Make your job easier by selecting a programme that is easy to scale for small groups:

    Cash Flow Game (Global)
    Cooking Team Building Simulations (Global)


For more tips to improve the effectiveness of small team building retreats, also read:

How we can Help

Executive Oasis International is a Toronto Team Building firm that specializes in “real” team building that integrates facilitated business team building exercises with upbeat indoor or outdoor team challenges. We have had the pleasure of serving companies from 16 countries. We plan team building from start to finish (including site selection) and facilitate expertly.

Team Building Retreats

Now that you have sampled our innovative approaches through the many articles on this blog, please keep Executive Oasis International in mind the next time your company requires team building, an executive retreat or on-site consulting to boost the effectiveness of your teams.

Request a Team Building Quote Today


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