Make a passing mention of a team retreat and see how many smiles you put on those glum faces! Perhaps, you will even agree that each one of us has a healthy appetite for change? It’s however sad that not all offsites are organised well, mainly because those in-charge have a limited understanding of it. They assume it’s just another meeting happening elsewhere, when it’s clearly not the case.
An offsite meeting is an opportunity to step away from usual work routine and space, and if it is purely for employee entertainment then responsibilities too. If organised well it results in positive outcomes that last long after everyone is back at work (hint: productivity). Now, if you organizing an offsite here’s all that you should keep in mind.
What is the agenda and objectives?
Is the meet for strategic business planning, employee motivation and appreciation, or is it a mix of both? Is it debating and discussing current challenges? A clarity on the purpose of the meet can go a long way in making it successful. And, for that to happen you should get some basic facts on paper. For example, who and how many are going to be invited. Is it exclusively for C-suite executives or for employees at all levels? Are there outside experts who will be joining? Make sure you have everything that concerns the attendance. With maximum information at your helm decision-making will become easier. Most importantly, it will allow you to figure out the budget and how you can stick to it.
If it’s a small team offsite then ask for suggestions. After all, it is not for one person to decide. For all we know, it only defeats the purpose of having a team offsite in the first place.
Consider timing and communication
While you may get busy finalizing the location, it is advisable to organise the event on weekdays. Not only is it a cost-saving advice, but also one that will show your employees that you don’t want to encroach their personal time. Should you go the opposite route you are likely to hurt employee sentiments.
Once you finalise the agenda, location and time you have to be careful of how you communicate the message. Most often, poor communication results in equally poor offsite experience. The point is that there should be clarity on what the objectives of the meet are. There should be no scope of mismatch between expectation you are building and final execution. Any discrepancy is bound to leave a bad after taste.
Conduct a site visit
The venue should match your offsite’s objectives. Don’t book anything online. Be proactive; take a day out and inspect the venue. Does it meet tech requirements? Can you host some activities outside, if required? Who will help you with arrangements? Get answers to all the burning questions. Also, understand the flow of the venue: entrance, exit, emergency exits etc. Are emergency equipments in order? It is always better to be prepared, no?
And, while you’re searching for a venue make sure it isn’t two blocks away from work! It defeats the purpose of giving everyone some time off their regular work life! In any case provide transportation. Don’t expect them to come on their own. It’ almost as if you are inviting them to a party and asking to get their own food! Who does that?!
Make it fun
All work and no play can make anyone dull, especially if you intend the meet to be only about work. It has to be a memorable experience for all; one they can rejoice about. So, bring in fun elements with activities that build team teamwork and camaraderie. This meet should work as an adhesive and get people together and bump up their confidence in the work they are doing. Your employees should go back with renewed energies so that it reflects in their productivity and enthusiasm for work.
Reference the outcomes of your discussions during the offsite. Were you able execute them upon your return or pushed them farther in the list of your burning priorities. So that you don’t overlook important highlights, pin them up on your board. It will work as a daily reminder of staying on track. What’s even better is that tracking your own progress as well as teams’ will prove that you are capable of bringing about as well as sustaining positive change. Do you see their performance improve since the meet or should you huddle again and together look for a solution?
Follow-up with feedback
Your job doesn’t end when the meet concludes. Go on and solicit feedback from colleagues to find out if you did a good job. Encourage anonymous responses as some people prefer not being called out for what could be an honest feedback. It either case it will allow you to see where you excelled and where you could have surpassed people’s expectations of you.
The ultimate goal of team offsite is to provide an opportunity to everyone in the organisation to break free from a mould they cast themselves in. The monotony has to go out of the picture. It should help them come back ready to lock horns with the bull; ready to take on new challenges, both individually and collectively.
What are some of the priorities you keep in mind when planning such meets? Have you seen any impact in employee performance?