Five Tips To Plan a Great Offsite
It’s time for mid-year review and planning. If you’re taking the team offsite, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Summer months are a great time for marketing and creative teams to take stock, review progress so far for the year, and start planning for the rest of the year. Many teams will include an offsite meeting as part of their review and planning. Offsite meetings are always set with the best of intentions, but so often these meetings take a sharp left turn and veer into boredom, off on tangents, or general unproductiveness. To keep your team focused and make your next offsite productive, consider some of the following suggestions.
- Make sure you have enough time to cover everything you need to. If you have limited time, then limit the agenda. Better to cover a few things well than to cover everything badly. As you are building out the agenda, be sure to also schedule breaks. Stopping for a coffee or some fresh air keeps everyone going strong.
Understand how time of day affects mood and productivity. In his book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing“. Daniel Pink describes studies that show that different times of day lend themselves to different moods and levels of productivity. People tend to be sharper in the mornings, so start your day off with agenda items that require more brainpower. After lunch, people tend to decline, so bring out the coffee and step off the accelerator. Maybe try a team-building activity, or knock out some easy to-dos off the list. As the afternoon wears on, most people begin to recover and hit a highly creative time of day. At the end of the day, shift to more creative, brainstorming tasks.
Pull all the necessary reports before the meeting, not during
The fastest way to drive your offsite right off a cliff is to ask someone to “just go ahead and pull that report real quick”.
Have the data, reports, and key stats ready before the meeting starts. It can be a good idea to have extra, more detailed reports already on hand if the conversations does steer in a new, interesting direction, but please don’t send someone digging through Salesforce in the middle of the offsite.
Actually go offsite
The first time I was invited to an “offsite” meeting, I was baffled to find out that we weren’t leaving the building. “Conference room 3” may be free, but it’s not doing you any favors. The biggest problem with staying on-site for the off-site is office-based distractions. The only way to keep everyone in the meeting and on task is to leave the office.
Moreover, the point of the offsite is to get your team out of daily routines and away from distractions, so we can all focus. If you insist on meeting in the office you are going to have less productive conversations, people are going to be out of the room more often, and you aren’t going to get fresh ideas. Go away.
Set a goal
You should really already know to do this, but let’s say once more for the people in the cheap seats: Set a goal for the offsite! Decide what you want to accomplish during this meeting, build the agenda around that goal, and use it as your guiding light when the conversation wanders too far.
Moreover, having a stated goal will help keep everyone engaged and give what can be a really long day trapped in a conference room with your coworkers some forward momentum.
This is almost as forehead-smacking obvious as #4, but we all know this doesn’t happen as consistently as it should. Appoint someone to be a dedicated note-taker during the offsite.
Mark off time at the end to review notes and discuss next steps (and who owns them!) and then have the note-taker send out a recap email after the meeting.