Playtime is over

Ben Shore lends his thoughts to how businesses can get more out of corporate off-sites.

There was a time when management offsites were seen as a bit of an indulgence. A weekend jolly. A chance for senior leaders to shoot the breeze for a few hours before hitting the fairway.

But those days are well and truly over. The management offsite is now a regular strategic fixture in corporate calendars around the world – and with more attendees and larger budgets, the pressure on HR departments and COOs for offsites to produce tangible, long-term benefits is greater than ever.

From stakeholder communication workshops for global manufacturers to brand storytelling seminars for high-street retailers, we’ve helped companies deliver their offsites around the world. In that time we’ve found that there are five steps to ensure that an offsite makes a difference to more than just your backswing.

It’s all part of the plan

Of all the old business clichés out there, ‘strategy is a process, not an event’ must rank as one of the hoariest.

But smart companies realise that their offsite isn’t just a single event to be delivered and forgotten about. An effective offsite should help you reach your long-term objectives, not interrupt them.

Decide on the key outputs you want from your offsite, and circulate them so attendees know them beforehand.

Break the routine

There’s a reason why offsites are held away from the office. It’s all too easy to become comfortable in a routine when every day you sit at the same desk, drink the same coffee and have the same meetings with the same people.

Getting your senior leaders into a new environment doesn’t just give them a change of scenery. It forces them out of their usual patterns and encourages them to think differently about your business.

Leave PowerPoint in the office

But the novelty of a new environment quickly wears off if it’s filled with reminders of the office. That’s why we encourage our clients to create bespoke content rather than relying on the usual suite of presentations and spreadsheets.

Whether it’s a short film to introduce the event or a breaking news bulletin to mark an unfolding crisis, providing your attendees with carefully prepared content will get them engaged in a way that another dreary PowerPoint presentation will not.

Check-in, check-in, check-in

Enthusiasm, unity and a renewed sense of your business strategy. If your offsite ends with these, then you can sleep soundly in the knowledge that you delivered an engaging and impactful event.

But what happens when your senior leaders return to the office? How long will that warm glow of cooperation really last?

Build a post-offsite engagement plan to keep the momentum going and ensure your senior leaders don’t lose sight of the objectives.

Year-on-year benefits

Offsites represent a serious investment. Leaving aside the costs of venue hire and facilitation, taking your senior leaders out of the office for a few days isn’t cheap.

And with budgets under ever-increasing pressure, the need to demonstrate return on investment is paramount.

That’s why we encourage our clients to consider how they’re going to measure the effectiveness of their offsite. We provide our clients with a range of qualitative and quantitative tools to demonstrate just how valuable offsites are to the business.

From hurried afterthought to key calendar fixture, management offsites have come a long way in the last few years. With ever-increasing pressure on senior managers, the need for offsites that are effective and engaging looks set to grow. By investing time upfront and setting out a clear plan, HR departments and COOs can host management offsites that really deliver.

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