Producing a Successful Offsite Part 5/6: It Ain’t Over ’till…. the Next Offsite!
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Your offsite doesn’t end when everybody checks out and heads to the airport. In fact, a well-planned offsite’s effects can still be felt until… the next offsite!
Just as the preliminary teaser campaign is meant to expand your impact on offsite participants to before the event even begins, the follow-up campaign is meant to keep the impact you achieved during the offsite going strong, even AFTER the offsite has ended and the employee ice breakers have come to a thaw. Whereas the teaser campaign “warms” the participants’ “engines” well before they arrive and allows the entire team to hit the ground running, the follow-up has two key purposes within your overall corporate strategy:
- Keep those engines warm and running for as long as possible after the end of the offsite.
- Help ensure participants maintain commitments made while at the offsite.
Both these points present significant challenges, as participants are often “sucked back” into their organization’s operational quicksand and hectic routines as soon as they leave the offsite location (and sometimes even as soon as the last agenda item of the offsite is completed). Once the total immersion is gone, the magic of the offsite has a tendency to quickly fade away.
A well implemented follow-up campaign can significantly slow down this process, consistently stimulating positive memories and emotions from the offsite, while demonstrating a sincere commitment to the processes that took place and ensuring value-based management that drives success.
Every time we “hit” them with a positive stimulation, we re-enforce the positive impact of the offsite and the emotional memories we will have hopefully instilled in them throughout the offsite that remain woven into the fabric of your company culture.
The more visual and entertaining the follow-up stimulations – the greater their impact will be.
If the participants stop in the middle of their day to look at the pictures you’ve sent; if they smile for a moment as they recall the great time they had, and then go back to their daily activities – BINGO! You’re maintaining employee engagement.
As with the teaser campaign, incorporating the follow-up into team and management meetings is very powerful. Yet unlike the teaser campaign, the more time allocated to follow-ups, the greater the participants’ trust in and commitment to the process as the core of the offsite will be.
A smartly crafted follow-up should consist of emails that are sent every few days for weeks after the offsite. They should include:
- Pictures from the offsite;
- Video clips of the various presentations given by each table;
- Additional professional information that had to do with questions that were brought up during the offsite;
- Sources and summaries of information presented by the CEO and guest speakers;
- An ultimate follow-up can take place down the line, as part of the following annual sales kick-off events, with a presentation on each new “acquisition or success” that directly resulted from the commitments made at the offsite.
From an ROI perspective, the follow-up you conduct after an offsite can improve your cost-benefit ratio exponentially – turning a short or several-day activity into a process that extends over several months… hopefully lasting until the next offsite (which should optimally take place 3-6 months later).
Ok. 5 posts down, one to go. In the next and last post of this series, we will discuss the final component of a winning offsite: the actual agenda. We will talk about the difference between a quantitative approach that tries to squeeze in as many professional content sessions into a 12 hour a day agenda, and a qualitative approach that is process- and impact-centric.
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