Every manager realizes that the members of their team are one of the biggest expenses that their company has to deal with. At the same time we all realize that company culture is critical, and your team needs clear goals. You can tackle all three of these issues by conducting a well-planned company offsite that can help you excel in all three categories. A meeting like this will allow you to reset, make sure everyone is aligned, and gives the team an opportunity to connect outside of the office.
Make The Investment In Planning Your Offsite Meeting
Managers need to understand that one of the most important things that they can do is to invest time upfront. One of the best ways to go about doing this is to workshop the agenda as a group. You should talk about it in team meetings (“What are the items we must cover?”), you should send around a draft agenda and open it up to comments, and you need to talk through the nitty-gritty of every plan.
Managers need to realize that it can easily feel excessive to spend so many hours planning for an event that’s only a day long. However, when you put the time in upfront, you’ll maximize every minute you have together. The best part of this is that you’ll get everyone’s best brain power and creativity, because you’ve done the work to clear obstacles in advance. If you make a mistake and your offsite doesn’t have a clear purpose or set of goals, your team members will feel it. Keep in mind that a productive offsite should be more than just a change of scenery. Managers need to understand that it doesn’t need to be a huge production to be a success, but it does need to be purpose-driven from the start.
Carefully Pick Your Time For Your Offsite Meeting
Keeping everyone’s attention during an offsite meeting can be a real challenge. One way to go about doing this is to have a “no devices” rule during your group sessions. Managers will have to be careful about your business needs when you encourage your team to fully unplug.
Once you’ve been able to pick a date, make sure that you send a calendar invite to the team far in advance. One thing to be cautious about is if you’re asking employees to stay overnight because they need to plan accordingly so they can come to the meetings fully present. Many managers choose to host their offsite meetings yearly but the cadence can always vary.
Pick The Right Location For Your Offsite Meeting
Managers need to keep in mind that the whole goal of an offsite is to step away from your usual surroundings. We need to realize that there are so many options now, from traditional retreat sites (like hotels and conference centers) to startups that will rent you a short-term space (like WeWork, Breather, and Convene).
An important characteristic of any location that you select to hold your offsite meeting is that you’ll want to pick a spot that’s easily accessible and make sure the space will be conducive to your work. Make sure that you reserve a room with ample whiteboards, tables, and even bean bags to allow for great brainstorms and active conversations. An important point to consider is choosing a place you can return to again and again that becomes an ingrained company tradition.
What All Of This Means For You
You were able to pick a great place, brought the whole team together, agreed on priorities — now what? In order to make your investment in an offsite meeting worthwhile, you have to carry through your takeaways throughout the rest of the year. In the short-term, ask everyone on you team to share their notes with the whole group. Make sure that you add “offsite debrief” to your next team meeting agenda. You will want to discuss the big takeaways now that you’ve had some time to settle back in.
Over the long-term, managers need to codify the objectives you agreed on in a shared document. Come back to this document each quarter, check back in on how the team is progressing. Are there any initiatives you left the offsite incredibly excited about that have fallen off? Have your priorities shifted? Make it an open conversation throughout the year. Managers need to realize that aligning your team is an ongoing process, and your offsite is just one milestone along the way.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: Do you think that you should limit the number of people who can attend your offsite team meeting?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
As managers, one of our goals is to find ways to get the most out of everyone who is part of our team. One way to go about doing this is to show some flexibility in where our team members perform their work. Right now both remote working and “working from home” are popular workplace trends that can have real benefits for your team. Managers know that there are huge benefits for the company as well, especially when you think about the having ability to add team members regardless of where they are located.