So you had an offsite, you talked about so many things, and you have so much you need to share and accomplish. But how do you bring it all back to the office?
You’ve heard the saying, “Information without transformation is just a waste of time.” Well, when it comes to executive offsites, that time is multiplied by the number of attendees. When you add up the attendees’ hourly cost in the room, you might start to sweat.
Don’t let that be a deterrent from holding the meeting. Instead, let it drive you to make the most of your time together. We’ve already talked about how to do that in the meeting, but the reality is that nothing has changed while you were gone. The transformation is yet to take place.
Today, I’m going to show you the right way to jump-start the transformation you want as you execute and implement your offsite decisions and rally the company around your cause.
Here is the process I recommend. It includes the final two sessions of the offsite, the Post Offsite Report Review for your executive team, and the all-staff meeting for everyone in the company.
First, say nothing
When you are at an offsite, it is easy to disconnect a little too much from the business’s realities. There was more than one occasion when we made a decision at an offsite, but after sleeping on it and processing it for a few days, we realized we needed to scale it down, delay it, or kill it altogether.
When you and your team get back, and other staff asked what happened, give this generic answer:
We had an incredible time together and are all 100% on board with a clear direction forward for the company. We are already doing a lot of things well, and we will keep doing those things well. We also have some room for improvement and change so we can get even better. We will announce the specifics soon, but know that we all have a very exciting year and future ahead of us as a company.
That’s it. No specifics, no secrets. You’re just giving your team and yourself the time to process the decision and craft the right communication for your team.
Next, create the Post Offsite Report
Duration: 1 week
The post-offsite report is a more detailed and written version of the wrap-up session. Document the top discussion points, decisions, and delegations from each session and distribute them to the leadership team within seven days.
Session 10: Post-Offsite Report Review
Duration: 90 minutes
Once everyone has had a day or two to review the report and discuss it as a team. Dial-in the final details and debate any lingering issues. Ensure everyone is 100% committed to the team’s outcomes because the next step is the announcement.
Once everyone agrees on the contents of the report on the decisions that were made, you need to decide what needs to be communicated and how. While some private issues are not to be shared (employment, compensation, disciplinary action, or other legal or personal matters), I would encourage you to share as much as possible.
Most teams under-share, leaving their staff to guess and fill in the blanks. Rumors start, and confusion runs rampant.
Take the communication issue head-on. Rather than hiding the decisions, organize those decisions into a public report you can make available to all of your staff. Take the post-offsite report and remove any content about discussion, debate, or difference of opinion. This will leave you with a potent communication tool I call a decision making playbook.
The decision making playbook outlines the mission, vision, values, goals, strategies, and tactics of the entire organization. It helps employees connect with the organization’s purpose, identify how they fit in, and make sure their work aligns with the organization’s direction. This is how you achieve scale, making the decision making playbook one of the most valuable results of your time together offsite.
Session 11: All-staff
Duration: 60-90 minutes
It’s time to make a big deal of the work that you did and align everyone in the company around your shared purpose. You’re not only telling everyone where you’re going, but you’re also inviting them to help you get there. This is fascinating stuff.
At the all-staff, walk your staff through your decision making playbook. Encourage questions. Record the even for anyone who can’t attend live.
I will offer one word of caution for your first post offsite all-staff meeting. Leave out your mission, vision, and values (MVV) and start with your goals.
I say this because I have found that the first time through an MVV exercise, teams tend to be overly flowery and aspirational. They often land on what they want to be true and not necessarily what is right.
Because of this gap (and for a few other reasons), the company decisions don’t 100% with the values you identified. This leads to confusion, apathy, and skepticism in the staff and does more harm to your culture than good.
So sit on your MVV for at least six months. That will give you time to discuss and further refine your MVV at two more quarterly offsite meetings. It will also provide you with time to model those values from the top. Culture is more often caught than taught.
Once you’ve lived out, modeled, and made decisions that are consistent with your MVV for several months, you will be ready to share them publicly. And when you do, you’ll be amazed at the results! The words you share with your staff will match your actions, and like rocket fuel, you’ll see the culture in your organization take off.
There’s no doubt about it. Executive offsites are hard work. But when done right, they are massively rewarding. When it comes to creating clarity and momentum in an organization, I’ve not found any other practice that holds a candle to a great offsite meeting cadence.
You’ve prepared well, had a highly productive meeting, and communicated the results clearly; it’s now time to take action. But before you do, make sure you schedule your executive offsite for next quarter so you can carry all that momentum through the next quarter, year, and decade!
Now that you know how to run a killer executive offsite meeting, you can take your business to the next level. However, it can be a lot to manage all of these different issues, logistics, and concepts, while also participating in the meeting and making decisions about your company’s direction. If you’d like help making your next (or your first) executive offsite a success, use the link at the bottom of this page to schedule a free consultation. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about how this specifically applies to your business or even help facilitate the meetings for you so you can be free to focus 100% of your energy on making the best decisions for your company.
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