1. Set out objectives: Define what a successful event would be for the company by creating a clear purpose and objectives for the event. For example: “The purpose of our annual off-site meeting is to offer a creative environment from which we will focus on clear, specific goals and objectives for the coming year”.
2. Include and Engage: Create a forum which encourages input from key participants prior to the event so they feel as if they are part of the process and not just there to serve the company leaders’ agenda. This can be done by identifying someone to be the point of contact to develop various input sources so that employees feel that their concerns are being addressed. Methods such as an employee survey (online or standard), employee focus groups or an online discussion board are ways for ideas and issues for consideration to be shared.
3. Positivity: Take a strength-based approach by focusing on the assets of the overall organization and its individual participants. Most businesses focus only on fixing problems and what went wrong throughout the year. By identifying the core strengths of the organization, a company can begin leveraging those strengths for creativity and innovation to get to the next level. When done properly this approach improves performance and results.
4. Follow-up: Create a format whereby priorities identified at the event have specific accountabilities for next steps and follow-up. This will create momentum, ensuring progress toward the program’s objectives. Identify the responsible managers and department heads and have them schedule follow-up accountability meetings with each of their team members before leaving the event. Follow-up is the most important part of any offsite meeting, poor or no follow-through is the number one reason for not reaching objectives of an offsite meeting.
5. Third party assistance: Hire an outside facilitator. Internal company facilitators are obstacles in attaining the desired results as sometimes they can bring their own prejudices and agendas to the facilitation. Also, other participants bring their own beliefs and attitudes toward the internal facilitator, which will always get in the way of maximizing the results of the offsite. The best facilitators will want to be involved from the earliest stages of planning the event to crafting the objectives. Some facilitators will even help design the accountabilities and specific follow-up.
Tracey Monaghan – Market Entry Specialist, Stateside Solutions