Many brands we’ve spoken to in the last few months are re-evaluating their professional development strategies in order to ensure that staff members are equipped and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. As companies plan for 2023 and beyond, they’re looking at how to best kick off the New Year with a sense of energy and optimism for their teams. So, in this post, I want to share tips for delivering the most impactful offsite for your team, suggest what to look for (and avoid), as well as let you in on our brand-new offering called ThinkShop.
First off, why have an offsite?
A meaningful group gathering offers a great way to level set and make sure your team kicks off the New Year on the same page. I’m aware that not all teams have this luxury, particularly with today’s virtual workforce, but where possible, it’s important to find key moments in the calendar for in-person events that increase not only engagement, but personal connection between team members. While there is an undisputed efficiency and convenience to remote work, nothing can replace the feeling of camaraderie that comes from a true face-to-face interaction.
Offsites at the top of the year are a great way to introduce strategic plans, and secure weigh-in and buy-in from your team to their role in navigating the path forward. Facilitating a creative problem-solving session on your own or getting an outside POV through an immersive group experience like ThinkShop is a great way to inspire fresh thinking. Studies have shown that “Creative problem solving sessions with groups that have even a minimal amount of training in creativity tools and principles generated 3.5X more ideas than groups without training; and these ideas were 415% more original.”
3 Strategies for your Professional Development Offsite
1. Establish a clear agenda
What outputs or outcomes are expected from your offsite? Make sure this is included in the calendar invite whether this meeting is intended to explore and dissect a problem, generate new ideas, craft a strategic plan or a combination of all three (or something else entirely).
2. Make sure the environment serves your agenda
There is nothing worse than booking a full-day session in a windowless conference room painted in sad beige. So many leaders focus solely on their content with no thought given to the role the environment and surroundings play in keeping your audience energized and engaged. Particularly when employees consider it a much bigger effort to relocate to a space beyond their home office, make it a space and experience they won’t forget or regret!
A few ideas from our own ThinkShop program:
Put pipe cleaners, silly putty, stress balls, markers, etc. on tables so people can release physical energy while listening to facilitators and presenters.
Make the space as inspiring as the content of the day by getting creative. For ThinkShop, we host it in a blank white space called a cyclorama that is typically used for photography shoots and bring in A/V to project stimulating 360 visuals that immerse our participants in a lively space.
Make sure the space is comfortable for all participants – from chairs and tables, to breakout spaces making sure there is both flow and intimacy in the environment itself.
3. Ensure you have the right people in the room and you understand the dynamic.
Here are a few key questions to ask yourself:
Who is the problem owner or who is accountable for outcomes?
How well does everyone know each other?
How much background do the participants have on the session content and challenge to be tackled?
Are there any hierarchies or relationships to be aware of?
What are the norms of the organization that might influence how the participants interact?
And most importantly, participants need to believe in their own creative capacity and value; those who don't want to be there or who don't trust the process can really stifle the dynamic of an in-person gathering.
Are you planning to host a team offsite in the near future or have you hosted one recently? We would love to know how you’re planning to or how you made the event a success! If you are planning one but don't know where to start, check out our new ThinkShop professional development program.