A Goal Setting Process at Local Government Retreats

LeaderGov posted a recent poll on LinkedIn and asked local government leaders what aspects of an offsite planning retreat they valued the most. The number one answer it was team building and the number to answer was goal setting.

Goal setting has many side benefits including collaboration, alignment, vision casting and building a sense of unity around a common idea. 

Below are some ideas to consider as you begin to plan for goal setting at your next retreat.

  1. Strategic Priorities Breakout: Ideally your local government should have a sense of your strategic priorities or critical areas you will focus on in the coming 2-3 years.  We recommend a table breakout allowing each table to answer this question:  If we magically had an extra million dollars in cash right now, what are the 3 areas that we would spend it on that would give us the most leverage  today.  Is it technology, DEI, culture, facilities, leadership, community engagement? Then have each table share their input. 
  2. SWOT Analysis Breakout: A sure fire way to get discussion on what needs future focus is a SWOT analysis. We encourage you to have participants (at tables) work on one of the four letters of SWOT and make a list of all the weaknesses, strengths, opportunities or threats from their perspective.  We then recommend the entire group prioritize each of the four lists. 
  3. Establishing Goals Breakout: Once you have prioritized your SWOT items, have each table develop one goal for either weaknesses or opportunities. Then have each table share their goal with a larger group for input. 
  4. Goal Details Breakout: Once the team has provided input to the goal we encourage another break out where each table details their goal to include milestones, dates and recommended goal captains or sponsors. Again each table then would share the details of their goals with a larger group and gain feedback from them in real time

As you are probably well aware, the most important thing to consider when setting these goals is to be crystal clear on what the outcome is, when it's due and who will do what (milestones).  

We like this as an effective goal template: 

"We will go from ____ to _____ by _____ (date).  

For example, "We will grow the number of people cross-trained in Public Works from 4 to 8 people by December 1, 2023."

We hope this blog has been helpful as you think about ways to maximize your retreats through effective goal setting.  Please let us know if we can help you plan or facilitate your next retreat.  


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