Use Off-Site Meetings to Motivate Staff
A useful planning tool that has been growing in popularity over the last few years is the off-site meeting. Its basic premise is to take staff out of their usual environment (the office) during work hours, allow them to relax, and plan out the next few months, or the next year, in the new environment – the beach, a golf course, or a bush retreat, for example. The idea is to get your staff – the people most familiar with the inner workings of the business – involved in working out how to improve it. Not only can you achieve some great ideas and insight using this method; you can also give your staff a feeling of ownership over the well-being of the business, so that they’re more invested in making it a success.
How it works
It’s easy to get stuck in ruts and mindsets when you’re working hard all day every day in the same environment. And while this often helps to keep productivity stable, it’s not a great way to plan for the future – to create successful new business plans, it’s essential to get out of the rut and have a good, clear-eyed look at the landscape around you. Off-site meetings provide a slight shock to the system, and the relaxation offered allows people to let go of their ‘work’ mindset and focus on the bigger picture.
How to plan it successfully
Ensure that you put aside a half-day, day, or two days (depending on the size of your company and the complexity of the plans that you need to consider) during the work week and standard work hours. Don’t expect your staff to turn up after work or on their weekends – you’re doing this for your best interests, not theirs.
Have a clear agenda of what you want your staff to talk about, and what you want to have at the end of the off-site meeting: for example, a business plan focusing on x new technologies for the next six months. Ensure that this is communicated to your staff before the off-site meeting, so that they understand exactly what they’ll be trying to do.
Start focused on your mission
Begin the off-site meeting by communicating the following concepts around the company for your staff to work with:
• Mission – what you want to do in the world.
• Point of difference – what you can offer customers that no other company can.
• Value system – the values that define your company.
• Culture – how your company interacts internally and with clients.
Provide guidance for the day’s activities
You’ll need to provide some sort of guidance to your staff when it comes to putting together strategies for the company. A good idea is to have a worksheet that takes them through various elements of your business operation, and how they can see those needing to perform in order to meet business objectives. For example, it might include:
• Marketing and lead generation
• Products and services
• Customer experience
• Internal systems and processes
• Internal structure
Break up into groups
You’ll generally get the best results by grouping your employees into teams of 5-10: enough people to generate ideas from each other; few enough that everyone gets a chance to talk. How you group people will depend in part on your business’s culture – if you’ve worked hard to create small teams that work well together, you’ll probably want to leave them as-is. Or, you might find that cross-department teams work well because each contains people with a wide range of knowledge.
Use the insights you receive
It’s important that you actually make use of the information that you receive at the end of the off-site meeting. Some of it might not be useful or relevant, but some will be – and there’s a good chance that some of the useful suggestions and insights won’t be what you expected, and possibly not to your liking. However, implementing recommendations and linking them with remuneration and motivation packages is very important when it comes to letting employees know that the exercise wasn’t just going through the motions, but an actual method of giving them a stake in the success of the business.
We will talk about KPIs next month.