Elements of a great offsite meeting
It’s that time of year where leadership teams are meeting to plot and plan for the coming year. So, here are some thoughts on how to create a great exec offsite.
Actually get offsite
Many companies have offices sitting vacant at the moment. It can be tempting to get into a board room there. But that context is not offsite for people. It’s not a change. I know you’re wasting money on rent but consider actually getting away.
Choose a venue out of the city. Hard-charging execs likely don‘t spend enough time in nature. 60 – 90 minutes travel time at most.
Consider travelling together
It was a bit cheesy, but in a previous role we took a stretch limo together to and from our offsites. We relaxed and bonded instantly. As a side note, they are not as comfortable as I would have expected. But the benefit in terms of bonding was there.
Get everyone involved in making it a success
Many CEOs take it all on their shoulders to come up with an agenda and plan the event. To me, Exec off sites are like potluck dinners – everyone brings something. Everyone contributes to the agenda. It is a shared success.
Poll your leadership team and what they did / did not like about previous offsites, what would be most valuable to cover now and come up with a plan for this one together.
Insist on focus
This should be a rule for all meetings, not just an offsite, but nobody should be doing email or checking Slack while the meeting is on. Now, your leaders have functions to run. The world doesn’t stop for them. So, this means scheduling in breaks to allow everyone to check in and respond to people and issues.
Consider a facilitator
If you are leading the meeting then you are not sitting back and thinking like the rest of your team. Consider having a 3rd party running the working sessions.
Bonus points if that facilitator is trained and can lead you all through a personality assessment or other exercise that helps everyone better understand their team members.
Celebrate & recognize
Startups are really bad at this I find. Because the expectations are so high. Because we have never ‘arrived’. The roadmap is never done. The revenue is never enough.
This hunger is good. It promotes striving for greatness. But it is also relentless. Stop and smell the roses together. As you sign up for another mountain to climb next year, stop and recognize the mountain you just climbed!
Not unrelated to the last point. Schedule some fun activities. I have done past offsites at wineries, glamping sites, have gone zip lining, canoeing for hours. These are important moments in helping the exec team actually be a team.
There you have it. Give these suggestions a try at your next offsite. These are important meetings that can have a big impact on your team and your company results. Take the time to get them right for maximum impact and enjoyment.
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