The season for team away days is upon us. Here are a few tips to ensure your next day out of the office is a success.
At the outset establish why you want to do an off-site team meeting. Too many groups simply book it in because they did it last year, or because its what other teams are doing.
Instead consider whether this is an opportunity to:
– Celebrate recent success
– Agree the strategy for the coming year
– Explore and adapt to changes
– Build the team
Once the purpose is clear the location, duration and content can be decided to reinforce this message.
The human brain associates memories with places. If you always go to the same venue, there’s a strong likelihood that lessons learned and decisions taken will merge and could become confused.
In comparison, going to a unique venue will create a special shared memory for the team. For example the team that talked about the importance of candour and giving honest feedback when they met in a converted lighthouse. Now they only need to visualise that cliff top lighthouse to remember the commitments they made to each other that day.
It can be helpful to bring in extra contributors. If you want to convey a particular message or inspire with a motivating story, then a guest speaker can be a useful addition.
Where greater discussion is required to wrestle with an issue or to develop the team, a skilled facilitator will be impartial and should also challenge them. This allows all of the team, including the leader, to contribute.
In both cases it’s important to be clear about when these people will and won’t be involved. We often recommend to clients that the facilitator doesn’t join groups for dinner, this way teams can relax and share a few in jokes without needing to be concerned for their guest’s sensibilities.
‘Teams that play together, work together’. Whilst discussions and presentations are important there can be great benefit in taking time to do something different as a team. The team that cook together, explore or make something will discover hidden talents in one another.
Additionally, when we are playing our true personalities come forward. We tend to be less serious and set aside the corporate personas that can hinder relationships in the workplace.
There are times, perhaps when a team has saved or earned their employer a large amount of money, when an extravagant experience is a fitting way to say thank you. That’s not to say that when budgets are tight it’s not important to take time out.
A picnic in the park, a meeting in a pub function room or a half day spent ten pin bowling can be hugely beneficial without breaking the bank. The key is not how much money but how much thought goes into designing a programme that will appeal to the participants and serve the business.
We’ve helped hundreds of teams to perform better as a result of taking time out. If you have an away day coming up please get in touch as we would be delighted to offer some suggestions.