Sep 27

Holding Effective Off-Site Team Meetings

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

Today I want to share with you some tips about a leadership and management tool that I found of great value: off-site team meetings.

They can be very beneficial, provided they are conducted the right way. In this article, I am referring to team meetings when you take the sub-ordinates that work for you out of their regular environment in order to focus on one or a very few specific issues.

Here are some tips that have worked for me:

-          Number of participants: 7 to 12 people

-          Facilitation: Depending on your needs, an external or an internal facilitator for the meeting are o.k. Sometimes, I did the facilitation myself and sometimes, another team member did it.

-          Frequency: I used to take my leadership team once a quarter for an off-site meeting.

-          Duration: In most cases, we scheduled our off-site meeting from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon.

-          Location: We used to go to nice hotels one to three hours drive away from our office. I consider a relaxed, informal and enjoyable atmosphere crucial for the success of the off-site meeting. The pleasant environment was also a kind of compensation or reward for my team members who were willing to sacrifice part of their weekend for our meeting. Important: I always asked my team members first whether they are o.k. before scheduling  the off-site meeting for Friday and Saturday. It is obvious that you will get the consent of your team members only, if you have succeeded in establishing a good working atmosphere.

-          Agenda: Less can be more. Do not overload the agenda. Be generous with the time schedule. Balance business and leisure. Make the off-site meeting an opportunity for people to talk and share ideas with each other. Make it a joint learning experience. Focus on one or only on a very few topics. And, very important: use the meeting as an opportunity to talk rather than to show dozens or hundreds of (boring) powerpoint slides. My personal learning curve shows that the less number of powerpoint slides we used (sometimes we didn’t use any!), the more effective and fruitful our off-site meetings became.

My personal learning curve shows that the less number of powerpoint slides we used (sometimes we didn’t use any!), the more effective and fruitful our off-site meetings became.

Team meetings away from the office are a great opportunity to strengthen the relationships among team members. They can be a chance to align the team behind a common cause, refresh strategy and goals, a joint learning experience or an opportunity to address a particular issue in an open way.

During our off-site meetings we were always able to create momentum and to revitalize and reenergize the team. Spending many hours closely together made us a much stronger team and gave us a lot of mileage and momentum when we had to discuss serious business issues in the office.

I have always observed further improved team spirit and improved bonding  after our off-site meetings. That is what I consider the biggest benefit of these meetings.

And, after all, isn’t great teamwork the ultimate competitive advantage?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at 03:23 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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