A popular trend with churches is to conduct off-site meetings with their staff. This is usually a time when the staff gathers somewhere away from the physical location of where they work to focus on long-term planning, review how current plans are going, and give attention to mission, vision, strategy and team building.
The question is, how effective are these off-site meetings? Does the team come away motivated, challenged, and clear on what they are doing, why they are doing it and who is doing what? If at the end of the time away all that happened was meeting after meeting with some socializing in between, then the off-site was not a success.
Here are some things to consider for conducting a successful off-site meeting.
- Identify the why. Why are you doing the meeting off-site in the first place? In other words, what do you want your team to gain from the time spent off-site? What would they learn that they did not already know? The answer to this question will set the content for the meeting. Answering the why will also help you decide if you need to bring in someone to facilitate the time away or whether you have the talent on staff.
- Set boundaries. An off-site meeting can be conducted on-site if you set the necessary boundaries. For an off-site to be effective, you have to create the space for uninterrupted time together; for example, no interruptions are allowed except for an emergency. Cellphones should be turned off. Phones on silent can still distract because they vibrate and notifications pop up. Staff should not bring laptops or other devices unless you have a specific use for them, and then they should be off unless they are being used in the way and at the time you want them.
- Be creative. An off-site, whether for four hours or two days, should not be conducted as a regular weekly staff meeting. Many off-sites are only extended weekly meetings at a different venue. Therefore, without an outside facilitator, you will have to work hard and be creative in the facilitating of the meeting. For example, if the focus is to improve communication, then design some interactive sessions where people are actually learning and practicing how to improve communication.Your creativity will be determined by your answer to point one above. Everything you do will be aimed at getting to the why of the meeting. What do you want the team to leave the meeting knowing that they did not know before they came, and what will they have to go back and start doing?
- Maintain momentum. Unless you are intentional about maintaining momentum after the off-site, the only thing you will have accomplished is time away in meetings and perhaps some handouts to be stashed in a desk drawer.Have words, phrases or numbers that will be repeatedly used to remind the team of the takeaways from the off-site. You may want to create posters with the outcomes and put them in your regular weekly meeting place or at strategic places in the office area to keep the team focused on what you are trying to accomplish.
Conducting regular off-site meetings can be productive and motivating for your team if you take the time to plan it with the desired outcome in mind. One well-planned and executed off-site each year is far better than three or four that are nothing more than extended weekly meetings. Use the four suggestions above to help plan your next off-site to achieve your desired goals.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.