Transformational Leadership

Strategies for Success: Offsite Team Building

Daiv Russell asked:

Janet was a manager for an insurance company and she complained, “We don’t work together as a team!” Larry, her human resources consultant said, “Everyone just seems to do their own thing, they don’t share information, don’t try to help each other, and just don’t seem to care about anyone else’s problems. What we need is a team building offsite!” The two of them put together a two-day offsite for their team at a local resort. Because Janet wanted to fix the problem ASAP they had it just a few days later. Larry worked hard on putting together a schedule of trust building, ice breaking, and brainstorming.

During day one of the offsite only half of Janet’s team was there. The other half were on an important project that needed to get done by the end of the week. The half that were there did the activities politely but thought they were too touchy-feely. They knew it was because Janet was trying to force team building. The brainstorming sessions showed promise but no one even took notes. In the end, the team saw the offsite as a failure.

If you have never attended a successful offsite business session you probably think great results are impossible. However offsites are really a great way of bringing a team together to concentrate on business dilemmas and finding solutions for them. While working on these business problems a good teamwork is usually developed. One of the best side benefits of offsites is this team-building which is formed when working together to solve problems. A well-planned session finds answers to business issues but also brings groups together to work closely and develops a team spirit and confidence to accomplish tasks efficiently. A sloppily put together session will not be productive and the planner will not be highly thought of.

Do you want your offsites to be successful at team-building while also ensuring productivity? If so, you should consider the following ideas:

If you are having an offsite meeting for ‘Team Building’, do yourself a favor and declare how your meeting actually improves business. It’s important to have real business goals for the meeting. Actual business development such as sales goals for the next year, new customer service ideas or trying to fix a nagging problem are some ideas to concentrate on. If you tell you employees the meeting is for “Team Building” they may feel that the meeting is unimportant and won’t really help the business. In reality, you are building your team and solving business problems at the same time.

Make sure there’s enough time to network. There should be plenty of time throughout the experience for everyone to get to know each other and enjoy refreshments. Everyone needs to know each other better in order to have a more cohesive and better working team. Do not plan getting to know each other activities – let the team do this naturally.

Try your best not to hold the offsite during a particularly busy time, as you want your team members’ full attention. You don’t want them to be constantly checking emails or leaving to make phone calls. Attempt to hold your offsite during a slow period. As is the case with most businesses, there may not be a prime “slow” time during which to hold the offsite, but you want to make sure team members are not already taking on more work than they can handle.

Some of the best offsites I’ve held were overnight events. It gave it a more fun-filled atmosphere because the team ate dinner together, had some drinks… it made the whole thing feel so much more relaxed. Further, we’d always stay up late brainstorming new , out-of-the-box strategies and working through major business problems. These sessions would prove to be invaluable because the team members put their heads together to address problems and opportunities. Everyone really worked together as a team and, more importantly, the team members built real relationships with each by getting to know each other better. They got to know how the others think and act, which laid the foundation for building a strong team.

Following a business meeting where an idea was born, it is crucial to develop a plan of action. If you are going to complete a project elsewhere it is imperative that you have a well thought-out plan of action. Without a plan, you will just have a list of ideas or thoughts and no way to complete the project. You need to do this as soon as possible after the original meeting and keep your team members informed of your process. Otherwise, the team will lose faith in the project and feel that their time could have been put to better use.

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