“We do not work together!” Janet is, a group manager at a large insurance firm, was complaining to Larry, who was her HR consultant. “Everyone does their own way, they don’t exchange information, don’t attempt to aid each other they don’t think about the problems of others. We need an offsite for team building!” Janet and Larry thought of putting together an offsite that would last for two days for the group at a hotel that was located about two hours from the office. Janet was keen to get immediate attention on the issue, which is why Larry was working double-time to put the event together to take place during the course of the month. Larry made up an agenda that included activities to build trust, icebreakers, and brainstorming sessions to discuss ways the team could work more together.
On the initial day at the Offsite, only around half of Janet’s team were present. The majority of them were working on an exciting project that had to be completed by the end of the week. The rest of the team politely attended the group building activities; however, they did not appear to be very attracted to the events because they felt “squishy.” Since Janet was keen to concentrate this offsite solely on building teams, there wasn’t a clear business motive for the gathering. Discussions during the brainstorming session were productive. However, no concrete actions were implemented to follow up. The event was met with loud sounds from the team and ended up being a shambles.
For some, this could be an exaggeration; however, for others, this is very similar to an offsite they attended or was responsible for the planning. Offsites can be a highly efficient way to get your team to focus on solving a business challenge or defining a strategy, or inventing a novel approach to doing things. The most significant benefit of offsites is the team building that happens as you tackle an issue in business. When done properly, Offsites not only gathers great minds to solve a business issue but also helps build stronger teams that work efficiently and effectively and gets more tasks accomplished. If done poorly, the offsite can be seen as a major waste of time and not reflect well on your leadership qualities.
How can you make sure your offsites succeed in developing teams and getting tasks accomplished at the same time? Take a look at these simple suggestions:
There should be a specific reason to have the offsite.
Define an objective business motive for the need to set up offsite. Take into consideration things like developing strategic goals for the coming fiscal year, planning accounts for customers who are strategic or coming up with solutions to solve a major business issue. If you set the purpose of your Offsite “Team Development”, the team will likely think of the offsite as unproductive and has no business benefits. Build your team in the name of solving a problem or creating a vision for the future.
Play with balance
The work is not enough, and the offsite is too exhausting. It’s all play, and it’s an unintentional boondoggle. You can balance your schedule by the combination of working sessions and fun team-building activities added in. Make sure the “play” events you define are something everyone can participate in and go beyond the overused catch-me-as-I-fall-backwards event. Better yet, ask your team members what activities they’d like to participate in during playtime.
Give plenty of time to networking.
Give plenty of time in the morning and in the evening for the group to enjoy snacks, drinks and talk about anything that interests them. Team building begins with the building of connections, and building relationships begins with meeting each other. Let networking time be unscripted, and allow the group to enjoy chats with one another.
Do not hold offsites in a time of high stress.
If you choose to hold an offsite, it isn’t a good idea for the team members to look at their emails every five minutes or constantly rush to make critical calls. Try your best to ensure that you hold your offsite in the “slow” time for your company. Like most businesses, there is likely to never be a perfect time to hold an offsite; however, do your best to stay clear of times when your team members are already burning the midnight oil.
It can be an overnight affair.
Some of the best offsites I’ve hosted were ones where the group took a meal together, had some drinks, and then stayed up all night discussing the most pressing business issues or brainstorming ideas for a completely new approach. These late-night meetings were productive in the sense that the team members worked together to solve a particular issue or potential opportunity. In addition, the team members developed relationships that helped to build a strong base for teams that were strong.
Don’t force the team to be forced to work extra hours in order to “make more up” the time they’ve spent in the offsite.
If you’re hosting an offsite, give your team to shift certain other commitments for a few days to avoid feeling the pressure to finish their work when they’re offsite. One of the worst things you can have to see is your team being late due to inefficiency at an offsite. Take a break from some of the deliverables and let your team concentrate on the offsite and not what’s not being completed.
Create a plan of follow-up to carry on the work that was done at the offsite .
one of the more difficult issues I’ve had in offsites was the absence of a plan of follow-up that would put into practice some of the brilliant ideas that came from the offsite. Make a concrete follow-up strategy that includes dates, tasks and their owners, and you’ll keep the enthusiasm flowing from the offsite and get some of the best ideas put into action. Do not put up a plan for the follow-up, and you’ll end up with an offsite that your team considers an unnecessary waste of time.
Offsites are an efficient way of getting things accomplished and creating amazing teams simultaneously. Be sure to adhere to these easy steps to make sure your next offsite will be a huge success.