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Work Retreat Do's and Don'ts for Your Newsroom


A photo of a woman standing inside a TV control room

Know the do's and don'ts before scheduling a newsroom retreat so you have a better chance of turning talk into action.

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A work retreat for your newsroom provides a great opportunity for you and several key staff members to get away from the daily deadline pressures to plan for the future. Once you've decided you need a newsroom retreat, remember the do's and don'ts so that you can increase your chances that this meeting will bring lasting and successful change to your newsroom.

Work Retreat: Do Keep Your Discussions Confidential

Once you invite your key newsroom staff members to join you for an off-site retreat, tell them how important it is to keep your discussions confidential. Your desire to have an open conversation about your newsroom retreat ideas will suffer if everyone is suspicious that what is said will be repeated to the wrong people.

Work Retreat: Don't Do All the Talking

If you as the newsroom manager are planning on dictating the conversation, you might as well hold a staff meeting with your entire newsroom rather than a newsroom retreat. The key is to get input from the workers you trust the most, so you can set goals and plan for the future. Take time to listen and be prepared to hear an honest critique of your news operation.

Work Retreat: Don't Allow the Retreat to Become a Gripe Session

You desire to fix problems in your newsroom. While you'll likely get an earful from your workers about what's wrong, don't allow your retreat to descend into a gripe session. Make sure your staff members understand that each issue should include a possible solution. While you won't solve everything in one meeting, you want to leave with a course of action that will bring positive change.

Work Retreat: Do Stick to a Discussion Schedule

Part of your planning for a work retreat will be to identify and prioritize key discussion topics. For instance, if you allow a free-form discussion about newsroom technology, you may find that the day disappeared before you ever got around to talking about cross-training, staffing or setting up an internship program. Allow 30-60 minutes for a topic, then move to something else. That will help keep the conversation focused and prevent people from rambling if they know they're up against the clock.

Work Retreat: Don't Allow Easy Excuses to Shoot Down Ideas

"We don't have the budget for that,", "That's not the way we do it," or "That won't work," are three phrases that can poision your retreat and stop ideas from flowing. The point of a retreat is to look ahead and plan, not to be stuck in the past. Budgets can be revised, processes can be overhauled and people can learn new skills. Set the example by not making excuses yourself.

Work Retreat: Do Set an Action Plan

You will have a long list of ideas when your retreat day ends. By setting up an action plan, you lift the ideas off the paper and turn them into goals for your newsroom. Delegate this work load to the key people at your retreat so that they feel empowered and you don't get bogged down by all of these additional tasks. Hopefully, you'll find that an action plan will boost morale in your newsroom once people see that needs are being met.

Work Retreat: Do Hold a Staff Meeting

Not everyone in your newsroom was invited to your retreat, but they are all key players when it comes to turning all the talk into action. That's why it's important to hold a staff meeting so that all of your employees know which topics were addressed in the retreat. You don't need to reveal all the details of what everyone said -- remember that was supposed to remain confidential -- but to bring lasting change, you need everyone on board with your plans.

Work Retreat: Do Follow Up on Your Goals

Set dates -- three months from your retreat and six months from your retreat, so you can get your retreat participants back together for a quick follow-up session. A morning meeting over coffee and doughnuts will work. Go over the action plan you set at the end of the retreat and measure your progress. While major budget changes might have to wait for a new fiscal year to start, you need to see how your retreat is already having an impact in your newsroom in other ways. If you've delegated some authority, these brief meetings will be an incentive for those with newfound power to have something to show you.

A work retreat must have rules in order to be effective. By following these do's and don'ts, you'll have a more meaningful retreat day and reap the benefits throughout the year. You'll be a better media boss by holding these retreats regularly.

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