Having been a media seller, an NSM, LSM, DOS, and even GM in various stages of my career, I’ve been involved in a lot of offsite planning meetings. Some were valuable and others were just the same old sales meeting in a different location. It all depends on the importance the manager gives to the meeting.
We know pre-prep is important for all meetings. For offsites, it should include constructing a detailed agenda and choosing a location that allows for productivity and fun. In addition, here are some other suggestions that contributed to the successful offsite meetings I conducted as DOS:
- First and foremost, come with an OPEN MIND… great ideas aren’t always yours!
- Make fun an integral part… choose a theme. Have music, treats on the table, stress balls, slinkies—we always had a penalty flag and threw it if someone judged an idea.
- Invite a guest speaker, someone from the outside to bring motivation to the group.
- List the things the team does well and those that need improvement.
- Establish your overall goal(s) for the coming year either at the offsite or come in with goals prepared and roll out to the team at the offsite. A great starter is IWWMW—“In What Ways Might We…” For example, “In What Ways Might We increase 2022 new business revenue by XY%…”
- Focus. Once you’ve established your goals, every idea you have moving forward must support that goal.
- Everyone should have input into creating the plan. That keeps them engaged and ensures buy-in.
- EVERY idea gets put on the board. No judging allowed!
- After all of the ideas are on the board, everyone votes on the 3 or 5 items they consider priorities. Items with the most votes are your top initiatives (give them star stickers).
- Once you and your team have decided on the top initiatives to achieve the goal, do a breakdown and drill into each initiative. Again, everyone contributes ideas that will make the initiatives successful.
- Delegate ambassadors (or ask for volunteers) for each initiative; determine and define tracking and timelines.
- As initiative ambassadors, their item becomes a weekly discussion in one-on-ones for follow-up/execution/performance.
Taking your planning meeting offsite has always been a great way to foster openness and creative thinking. And right now, as long as safety is kept in mind, bringing your team together for a day of idea-sharing, laughter, and productivity can bring a much-needed jolt of energy to your team.