How to Make Your Off-Sites on Target
I recently shared the Harvard Business Review article, “How to Plan a Team Off-Site that Actually Works” by Ben Dattner and thought his plan to be beneficial and thoughtful.
Ben also adressed assessment tools and cautioned that the off-site not be taken over by lengthy and personal insights. While I agree with him about not using the time for personal shares; however, if executed properly, assessments can set up an powerful, creative and dynamic offsite, as well as great for great team-building.
Here are my additions to Ben’s article, including a pre- and post-plan assessment investment, to expand the outcomes of your next off-site, making your next off-site the best use of your time and energy:
- Explore the Science of Character, called the “New Frontier of Personal Development” by the VIA Institute. Weeks before our company’s off-site, we all had our personal assessments done with a private debrief to understand what strengths we bring to life and to the team. I chose peers, managers, direct reports and even a former employer to give me insights. The instruments we used is True TILT Profile and the Positive Influence Predictor, the Tilt 365. Through the debrief, I discovered some self-protective behaviors that were reducing my positive influence. Through coaching, I was able to identify where I wanted to change and what actions to committ to in resolving these self-protective behaviors. The character traits I personally chose to focus on were reliable and decisive. Walking into the off-site with already experienced constructive changes as a result of the assessment, I was ready and open to the next adventure - what would the team be ready to change for our desired outcomes? And since the other team members had gone through their assessments and debriefs, the off-site was exponentially more productive and engaging.
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- Include a learning laboratory through exercises and experiences.We spent the first full morning with a coach facilitating our group (I recommend a the larger the team, the larger block of timel; our team consists of five executives).
- We started by reviewing our Tilt Team Climate Profile to see the team’s current place in the model and, without interventions, our destination. Did it match our goals? If not, where did we want to “Tilt” to support our desired destination? We found new awareness and appreciation for the character traits and strengths of each other. How we fit together as a team, how we can stroke together or how we can bottleneck ourselves at times, became clear.
- We discovered we were not “Tilt-ing” in the same direction as our goals. We were invested in ideas and results, with absolutely no shortage of ideas. Yet, we had a daunting list of “to dos” that needed vetting, analysis, structure and implementation before success would be ours. Break time.
- We came back to the table with 4x4 cards that had strengths and traits on them. Each of us had our own set of 2 dozen cards. We had a block of time to choose the essential 5 we believed would support the team in the next two quarters. Some of the choices would require substantial change to produce the success we wanted. Once we each chose our five, we were able to walk around and look for resonance or disruption from our peers.
- We chose our collective strengths in collaboration and and this active collaboration gave us clarity and alignment of our goals and the path to take to get us there. We adopted the key strength of Diligence – Effective at Execution; the strategic plan emerged with greater ease and buy in. Later in the off-site, we worked on the project plans with heightened productivity.
- TILT 365 founder Pam Boney states, “No one can be successful alone in today’s disruptive world.” In the next 45 days, what took place in our company was truly an exponential mindshift: website and branding refresh,, new workshops with new curriculum, pitch decks for the sales, video edits and launch, CRM congruence, identified and recruited administration personnel for increased infrastructure, streamlined proposal process and more. We learned together to create conditions for success and innovation.
- Set up coaching for each leader after the off-site for six months up to a year, depending on the individual. Coaching supports and continues to expand our experience and learning from the offsite. Our mutual accountability and agreed-upon commitments are activated and has advanced the desired behavior change and mindshift to become an agile, generative leadership team.
- Be transparent with company employees.
- Open up the exclusivity and secrecy around executive gatherings and bring the offsite to life inside the company.
- Offer up what you’re committed to and focusing on. Share learning in team meetings or lunch with peers, direct reports and other appropriate opportunities that arise with this level of openess.
- Welcome feedback on how you’re doing and encourage employees to check back in as they observe the changes.
- We brought our off-site to our team in our all-staff meetings and included stories in our Virtual HH (Happy Hour) on Thursday nights. We opened up the communication and the team spirit and motivation have exhibited a noticeable uptick!
As Director of Sales of inviteCHANGE, I am sharing my firsthand experience with our own offsite and working with TILT365 team assessment. The inviteCHANGE team has the privilege of leading workshops, off-sites, on-going change initiative programs, coaching, culture consulting and more. And, we are learning and changing, too.
May your next off-site invite change!
Sarah Graves, ACC, Chief Relationships Officer for inviteCHANGE, has 30 + years of experience in Hospitality industries. Sarah has coached teams from opening restaurants to new products launch. Her experience in recruitment, training, preparation, strategy, has demonstrated consistently excellent results.