Situation: A CEO wants to schedule an off-site planning meeting with her top staff. She has heard about the potential efficacy of off-site meetings and is intrigued by the idea of taking her staff away from the office for a day or two to concentrate on planning. She is curious about typical agendas, time frames, objectives and who should be involved in the meetings. How do you plan an off-site meeting?
Advice from the CEOs:
- General considerations
- Set the objective of the meeting in advance. Tell everyone involved the objective so that they are thinking about this prior to the meeting.
- The staff involved depends on the objective of the meeting. Select participants to fit the need.
- Include a team building event. One purpose of off-sites is to help the team or teams get to know each other better and improve collaboration.
- Have an agenda for the meeting and meet without interruptions. Have participants notify key customers or contacts in advance, schedule back-up contacts if necessary, and don’t allow interruptions.
- Hold the meeting during work hours. Options: one day, local for easy travel and return home; or two days, nice setting, dinner the first day, and late afternoon return home the second day.
- Do you need a facilitator? This depends on the goal and organizer’s comfort with the topic of focus.
- Typical Agenda:
- A speaker or educational component pertinent to the meeting goal.
- Breakout and group discussions to think through important issues.
- A team-building event.
- Some fun – dinner or an evening activity that allows individuals to talk in a relaxed setting.
- Examples of effective events:
- Broad agenda – What can we do better?
- All-hands meeting – prompts contribution by all.
- Opportunity for CEO to communicate the company vision and involve employees in the planning process for the coming year or period.