Producing a Successful Offsite Part 3/6: It’s Called an OFFsite For a Reason
| 5 minutes
In the previous two posts of this series, we reviewed the importance of clearly defining your offsite’s ROI and of having a defining theme. The next step is using that theme to fully squeeze the value out of your offsite’s venue.
At Vayomar, we like to call this step total immersion.
This component is all about squeezing as much “juice,” or employee engagement out of the offsite as humanly possible. As offsites offer us the rare opportunity to almost completely control the environment in which our teams are placed, this is especially important, given the high costs involved in its production (i.e. – airfare and lodging for the participants, venue(s) rentals, food and treats, extra-curricular activities, designing and producing marketing materials, buying “props,” and, of course, the cumulative operational “down time” of all of the participants). If they are ineffective, it’s not just money lost, it’s opportunity lost as well.
It is up to us to make sure we really get as much out of our offsite as we can. The best way of achieving this goal is by leveraging the venue in a way that exponentially increases our desired impact on the participants in service of the pre-defined KPIs (ROI), as part of the overall corporate strategy.
This can be done by asking questions such as:
- How can we design the reception area for greater impact?
- What can we leave in their rooms for greater impact?
- What is the best dining room layout and what kind of activity can we run to enhance the impact, without disturbing their lunch break (see the example later in this article)?
- How can we design the smoking area? What posters can we hang up for them to see?
- How can we leverage the lounge(s), the bar(s), the conference rooms where most of the agenda will take place, even the rest rooms (when possible)?
- If participants are being bussed in – what can we have waiting for them on the bus?
As you can see, when it comes to total immersion, the goal is to take advantage and maximize the venue space to that participants can interact with elements of the offsite whenever and wherever they are.
As the resources invested into offsites are great, and the time period in which they can be applied are limited (think 24-72 hours), efficiency is key. So is value-based management. You do not want to miss that golden “window of opportunity” to impact your participants.
The key to effective total immersion begins with understanding the unique opportunities presented by the unique offsite format:
- Face-to-face (interpersonal) interaction. These types of interactions are becoming rare in today’s world, thanks to advanced communication tools, as well as due to the basic predisposition to eliminate non-“mission critical” expenses (and sadly, offsites are still not acknowledged by many senior decision makers as being “mission critical”).
- Duration. Most people, especially senior executives, interact with people for about in 30-90 minute increments. These interactions are brief and very operational by nature, not only leaving little time for “non-functional” human interaction, but also never really “going deep” into the issues at hand. This is not the case during offsites. Offsites, by nature, allow for prolonged interactions – formal and informal- provided, of course, that the way their agenda is structured supports these opportunities (see the 6th component below). An opportunity-rich yet less stressful environment with proper “time off” built into the event can have a dramatically positive and powerful impact on the relationship between participants, as well as on their overall attitude and willingness to engage.
- Critical mass. As I mentioned in the previous point, our daily routines rarely offer us the “luxury” of reaching meaningful depths of analysis along with our team members and key stakeholders. Weekly or monthly management meetings are meant for exactly that, but are rarely managed properly, leading to recurring missed opportunities (see our article titled “Management Meetings – From Status Updates to Strategic Discussions”). Total immersion allows our participants ample time away from their daily, operational and frequently tactical/scattered agendas, so they can accumulate the critical mass of time, resources, attention, and energy they need to reach a required tipping point and solve real problems.
Sadly, after spending years accompanying a wide variety of companies, we have found that, in way too many cases, those producing the offsite are focused almost exclusively on the professional agenda, rather than on items like “ice breakers,” bringing in an interesting keynote speaker, or scheduling a nice outing for one of the evenings.
This very limited and linear approach to offsite planning pays little attention to the countless “in-between” opportunities that exist throughout the offsite event:
- If we are going to have breaks, how can we leverage those breaks in the service of the offsite KPIs?
- Are participants going to spend a total of 14 hours in the main conference room? How can we leverage the wall space, the room layout, even the chairs they sit on, in the service of the offsite’s KPIs?
The time to totally immerse and making use of every moment and every venue in the service of the offsite KPIs is now. How will you implement total immersion to impact participants at every given moment and in every possible location throughout the offsite?
Join us next time for a discussion on how to build the most effective agenda – looking not at how much we can cram into an 8-10 hour day, but rather at how much we can effectively “cram” into participants’ consciousness by building those 8-10 hours wisely.
To read the next post of the serious click HERE >>
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