Business Management

Treat Your Team to an Educational Retreat

Millie Haynam explains the hows and whys of educational retreats, which are designed to educate, motivate, and foster team unity.

If you have ever had the opportunity to attend an educational retreat or symposium offered by a manufacturer or association, you understand the power of these events. Bringing this experience closer to home can provide a powerful event to align your team with your salon’s mission. Brainstorming with your team while still in the planning stages can help you decide what topics will be best suited for your event.

Retreats provide many benefits beyond those of traditional educational classes and monthly meetings. They provide an opportunity to delve into deeper waters and really plug your team into who you are and what your business is all about. They also allow you to better understand your team and see what makes it tick. Having this exchange of information can be extremely valuable in moving toward smoother salon operations in the business and personal senses.

During a retreat, team members have an opportunity to see each other in a different environment and uncover a deeper understanding of everyone’s diverse personalities.

These events can be held anywhere. Different locations offer different advantages — you can choose to hold the event in your salon, at a local hotel, a destination resort, or community meeting room.

Obviously the most cost-effective is to hold the event in the salon; however, a change of venue can bring fresh perspective to your event. You may also want conference tables for note-taking and audio-visual equipment for presentations.

Local hotels can offer conference rooms at reasonable rates on off-conference days, like Mondays. Our local chamber of commerce has a room available free of charge if we give them enough notice. Some salons prefer to book destination retreats in relaxing surroundings and to allow downtime during the retreat for individual reflection.

Choosing a theme for the retreat is always a wise idea. It helps to keep the event flowing from one speaker or presenter to the next. Our theme varies from year to year, but we always include a few key elements.

Ideas for Activities

Motivation, goal-setting, and team-building activities help us strengthen relationships, understand our missions and goals, and learn how to further develop as a team. Often we discuss topics from classes that the management team has attended at symposium events during the year. Material that inspired us is likely to work for the team, too. Sharing personal motivational tapes or books is also a good option. You can have team members read chapters or listen to specific tapes before the retreat, so they can come ready to discuss. Bringing in outside speakers helps deliver information with a fresh perspective. Many times team members can relate to the same information from a different source in a way that you as an owner or manager cannot seem to deliver.

Speakers don’t have to be expensive or famous. Look to your network of distributors, manufacturers, local chamber members, or even family and friends. My sister is vice president of training and development for a major Fortune 500 company. She helped us with personality profiling and team activities that allowed us to truly see how differently we are wired as individuals. Our homework assignment for the session was to fill out a profile designed to identify our personality type. Once scored, we each ended up with an individual profile that was then handed out at the retreat and explained in detail.

One of the team-building activities was to split up into groups and make a list for an imaginary party we were to throw. Groups were assembled into similar personality types. Needless to say the lists were very different. Detail-oriented individuals were no longer seen as “anal retentive” but organized. Big-picture individuals were not seen as dreamers but visionaries. These exercises helped us understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses in different areas, which ultimately made us stronger as a team. As an owner it also helped me to put the right people on the right tasks and group individuals into better-functioning teams according to their strengths.

Making It Happen

So you’re asking yourself, “Where do I find the money to offer a retreat?”

Retreats must be built into your education budget. By providing tools to help your team grow your bottom line, the money will be there. Look into business tools that provide rewards, such as credit cards that offer air miles that can provide several round-trip tickets per year. Joining hotel-rewards programs can also help defray costs. This year we are holding a gift-card contest where team members can earn a trip to the TSA Symposium in San Diego in January.

Do retreats really make a difference? The answer is a resounding yes! Last year we tackled goal-setting. Each team member had a homework assignment to make a “goal board.” They had to find photos of goals — both personal and professional — and share the board with the team. At the retreat we listened to Making Your Dreams a Reality by Jack Canfield, a tape that I found instrumental in helping me achieve my goal of salon ownership. One team member had a photo of a new car on her board. Well last month she made that goal a reality. I had a photo of a larger salon and this month, if all goes according to plan, I will be moving to that larger location. Helping your team achieve personal goals is a great side effect of these trainings.

We have offered an educational retreat for the past two years and will continue to make this an annual event. Retreats offer opportunities to educate, motivate, and bring team members together to better appreciate each other. Helping your team grow will in turn grow your bottom line and provide the financial abundance to fund future events.

Suggested Retreat Themes & Programs

• Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen Lundin

• Gung Ho! Turn On the People in Any Organization by Ken Blanchard

• Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard

• How Full is your Bucket? Positive Strategies for Work and Life by Tom Rath, Donald O. Clifton

• Yes You Can!: 1,200 Inspiring Ideas for Work, Home and Happiness by Samuel Deep

• Making Your Dreams Come True by Jack Canfield

• Adventures in Creative Hairdressing (audio) by Geno Stamporo ( or (540) 338-7747)

• Michael Cole “Jump” program (

• The Needs Assessment (audio) by Susie Fields (

• Getting Retail Results (audio) by Susie Fields (

• Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (

Millie Haynam is the owner of Natural Beauty Salon in Twinsburg, Ohio.

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