So the summer is drawing to a close, with the kids heading back to school and soon the tan will start to fade. With just four months left until the end of the year and your team feeling revitalised after a few weeks off, September is the ideal time to get everyone together to refocus on what needs to be achieved before 2016 is over.
If you’re planning an offsite, onsite, strategy day, planning event, or any other dedicated time to focus on the plans and targets for the months ahead, below are some top tips to ensure it is a really productive use of time and enjoyable, rather than just painfully going through the motions. You can’t please everyone all of the time, but having different preferences at the forefront of your mind and raising your awareness of individual styles will help you to get the most out of both your session and the team.
For some of you this will be a no brainer, but for others who prefer a more flexible and spontaneous approach, this will take some consideration. To get the most out of your session, and out of all members of your team, ensure that you put the work in up front to produce plans, documents and the key questions you want addressed during the course of the time you have together. This will enable those in your team who prefer to think through ideas and concepts individually to have some time to consider the information and bring their best ideas to the session.
Schedule sufficient time for open discussion
Some of your team may prefer to bounce ideas around during the session rather than spend time alone in advance doing detailed planning. Build sufficient time into your agenda to allow conversations to go off at the occasional tangent – you never know what brilliant ideas may be uncovered from seemingly unstructured discussions. If the topic could have been resolved via email, why have you bothered to get everyone in the room together?
Create the right environment
If you want the team to really make the most of the time away from their desks, make sure you really are away from the desks. If possible, book a venue outside the office but if budgets are tight then try and book a meeting space away from the rest of the department so that you are not interrupted. It also gives your brain a change of scenery. Agree regular breaks and reassure people that they don’t need to be checking their emails during the session so that they can really focus. Most importantly – don’t forget the snacks and treats!
Give everyone a fair voice
If you are not able to bring in an external facilitator to run the session, then you need to take on that role during the discussions. Not only do you need to factor individual communication preferences into the planning and scheduling of the event, you also need to keep these in mind when you are facilitating the session. Your team is likely to be a mixture of loud and quiet voices but all need to feel valued. Setting ground rules up front will also help with this. Equally, you need to recognise that different team members will want to work at a different pace. Mix the session up with different activities and ensure there is some extension work for those who like to work at a fast pace.
It’s not a jolly…but is a great opportunity for the team to enjoy themselves
Undoubtedly the output of the session will be more work, initiatives and projects for people to get stuck into. To help foster engagement and a positive approach, factor in some personal development for them as part of the session. This can help them work better as a team in order to deliver the new challenges but also make them feel that they are being invested in personally as their to-do lists are getting longer.
Make all the good intentions stick
You can have the best planned session with the most engaged team in discussions but if you fail to agree specific, tangible actions and put in place a system for follow up you will have wasted the day. Before you head off for a well-earned drink, make sure everyone is clear on what the next steps are and book in a date to check in with how progress is going in a month or two.
If you are looking for an easy way to get a better understanding of the individuals in your team and how you can flex your own style to get the best from them, get in touch to found out how we can help.