Sometimes your business gets in a rut. You look at your team and its individual members and you feel like you aren’t reaching your fullest potential. Each member of the team was hired to provide input and support and to make the team perform cohesively, but teams sometimes need a shakeup, or at least to do things a little differently. One of the more common business strategies to shake things up include holding offsite meetings.
An offsite meeting might be held just to get members of the team to reevaluate their role. An offsite meeting might be a time to reevaluate a mission and vision for the business and to get people to refocus on an overall goal. Some businesses have found that without an offsite, they will continue down the same road they’ve been on, even if it is the wrong road.
Sometimes an offsite meeting can be a place to meet with important clients for much the same reason. To allow them, and you team to look at goals differently. To get a fresh perspective on the goal of the client. No matter the overall reason to have an offsite meeting, there are things that should be done to ensure that things run smoothly for everyone.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, some of the dangers of offsite meetings are that the expectations are not defined well enough for the team. If your group cannot look back at the offsite meeting in six or 12 months and see that real improvements were made after that meeting, then it should not be considered a success. If you’re just going to go about business like normal after an offsite, then why uproot everyone and spend money on a facility and machines when you could just have a “normal” business meeting back in the office.
Higher Expectations and Higher Stakes
- Who should be at the meeting, then what, when and why should the offsite occur are all part of the important initial step in setting up on offsite. Do you need guests to help lead the group, or will guests distract the team from achieving the overall purpose. These decisions must be made several months prior to the meeting.
- Create a set of data that will be relevant to the meeting. Are sells down? Are new clients down? Are existing clients not ordering new services or products? Have data prepared and shared with the most relevant members of the offsite team. This will not be a meeting for leaders to see data for the first time when they arrive.
- Have a structure prepared that will help the team achieve needed goals.
Be prepared to limit those who can attend. Unless people have a real reason to be there, don’t allow them to be at this meeting. Some executives will want subordinates to attend for different reasons. Perhaps they want people who will support their own point of view. Perhaps they want subordinates to hear from multiple leaders in the company what the future focus will be. Limit the attendees. You want leaders who can lead when they return to the office.
This does not mean subordinates should be barred from attending. It simply means that three months out, the attendees should be determined so the relevant people will be there.
Scope of the Meeting
The scope should not be to rewrite the business plan for the company. The scope could be to refocus on one or a few topics like customer retention. The scope could be how to prepare for new regulations so that people can work with minimal interruption when the new regulations happen. Determine what the scope will be and have a plan to make certain the meeting will be effective when the meeting takes place. The scope must be clearly defined.
If there are several issues that need to be addressed, consider breaking into groups so smaller groups can tackle big issues without disruption. Then, have each smaller group report back with input from everyone else who was considering a different issue. Also, work on these issues using data. Business plans are not a time and place for “gut” feelings. These meetings are too important to decide because that’s what someone thinks. Make decisions based upon facts.
As an organizer of an offsite meeting, you can create topics to discuss or have groups prepared based on different peoples’ perspectives. Is there an administrator in personnel who has a great understanding of sales, or is there someone in sales who knows right away which people are great at earning new accounts? Let these people work cross categorically for vital role in the offsite meeting.
Finally, make certain everyone has all of the tools they will need to be successful. Whether people work in one big group, brainstorming and commenting on what is happening and what needs to happen in the future, or if they are in smaller groups, have the computers, projectors, and printers they will need to their jobs effectively. A good offsite meeting will help set the direction—or reset the direction—of the company for at least the next year if it is done correctly. Ensure that everyone has the data, understanding of roles, and the machines they need—even if they are out of the office, to be successful.