7 Common Offsite Mistakes to Avoid
So your corporate offsite is set and schedules are cleared. Take some time to read through some of the most common mistakes leaders make when planning a strategic retreat.
1 – Lacking a Goal
Plan your offsite with a clear goal in mind – each working session should somehow move toward achieving this. While it’s tempting to want to tackle anything and everything with your top players devoting 100% effort during the retreat, the best offsites are a response to a specific challenge a company is facing – this means making sure each member of your retreat team has your goal in mind before the retreat even begins. If you have more than one challenge facing you, be sure to prioritize and handle only one at any retreat.
2 – Take, Take, Taking
You’ve put a lot of work into planning this offsite, all in hopes that your team will be providing valuable answers to important questions. You’ve set your goal and will be asking your team to dig deep and perform some mental gymnastics to get there. Make sure that you are investing in this team to achieve a different mindset on this retreat. Don’t just plop them in a local ballroom and expect great things – create a true change of scenery if you want real inspiration.
3 – Over-Scheduling
On the opposite side of the spectrum, over-planning a retreat is a sure way to snuff out creativity. The point of an offsite is to allow a core team of business leaders to take their creativity to new heights in order to reach a company goal. Make sure you are allowing plenty of time for mental decompression and for your team to enjoy the new environment in order to reap the benefits of the work sessions.
4 – Running it Yourself
While you are most likely more than capable of running a successful retreat, you’re leaving something very valuable on the table… Yourself. You cannot function as a part of your elite company team if you are running the retreat. Hire a facilitator to ensure your ideas and beliefs are an integral part of the results, and boost your execs morale by working elbow-to-elbow with them.
5 – Too Many Cooks
If you’re working with a large group for your offsite, be sure you have several workable breakout spaces on hand in which to schedule smaller work groups. Your full group gatherings during the retreat should be limited to communication purposes or recreation purposes- this includes the retreat and facilitator intro, daily schedule overviews, any large-scale education or classes you’ve planned, team-building, and your final event summary. For your working sessions, take the time to create efficient and specialized breakout groups dedicated to a smaller element of your overall goal. This ensures more creativity, more voices being heard, and more participation per person as opposed to the boredom and frustration of a company-wide working group.
6 – The “Onsite Offsite”
This is one of the worst gaffes planners make and is an extreme version of #2. Usually used for strategy development, the “onsite offsite” or “onsite retreat” is just a way to say “very long meeting” and everyone knows it. Best to call this what it is, reign in expectations, and if more is needed go back to square one and plan for an actual offsite.
7 – Not Following Up
This is arguably the worst offense on the list and unfortunately all too common. We can look at the work done at an effective retreat as development and planning – and all that work is useless if it is not implemented upon returning to business as usual. Follow-through is essential to not only actually attaining the goal for which you created the retreat, but to show your elite team that their time and work was of real value. You can create the most effective, creative, genius-making retreat of all time, but it will all be for nothing if it’s not implemented.