This was the learning our Account Director, Nicola Hutchinson, shared back in September last year (although it feels like another era) about the powerful potential an effective offsite can unleash. What a difference a few months makes.
With social distancing and travel restrictions in place for at least the short-term future, it might seem like those piña-colada-sipping, ropes-course-navigating, team-building-weekends-away are on hold until further notice. And yet, for leaders and their teams alike, the importance of connectedness, engagement and communication are as important as they’ve ever been. So how can we take our initial ‘offsite insights’ and use them to set us up for success right now?
In light of the current global reality, we revisited that discussion with fresh eyes and asked ourselves: “How can you build a (virtual) offsite that maximises ROI from leadership development?”
In our original discussion, we presented 4 key steps to help you create an impactful offsite, build leadership effectiveness and create lasting change. Those principles are still crucial today. But a second look with an added virtual lens reveals some additional tips and tricks that can set you up for success now and for the future..
1. Unify your approach to leadership development
When it comes to your offsite, consistency is key. A successful offsite should deliver an impactful experience that will influence Leadership Team behaviour in the long-term.
You can do this by taking a bird’s-eye view of the whole agenda and plotting the emotional journey you want to take Leaders on.
As we take our development sessions online, providing a consistent, holistic narrative – structured around key outcomes – remains imperative.
2. Create experiences not content
Experiences pull us into the moment. They connect us to our senses and help create powerful links and memories. When designing your offsite, you should go beyond PowerPoint and think about what experiences will help to make your message or topic stick.
Keeping your people focussed at a distance will be one of the more difficult challenges of a digital offsite. Without direct person-to-person contact digital activities, experiences and interactions are essential for maintaining attention levels and encouraging participation.
3. Balance space with pace
Give your agenda room to breathe. We’ve seen ground-breaking chats about behavioural root causes during lunch, and fruitful brainstorming sessions naturally occur in break out time.
Where appropriate, leave enough space for delegates to ruminate on the issues and have real and sometimes unfacilitated conversations. That’s where the magic happens.
Just as a day of constant learning and development can wear your people out, a day fixed to your computer screen will quickly leave your audience distracted.
4. When it comes to leadership effectiveness, the devil is in the data.
Hosting a thought-provoking day is not enough to make a large-scale change. You must make sure that success metrics are in place to measure the long-term outcomes of the offsite, not just what happens in the room.
Whilst running an offsite just for the sake of it is never a good idea, it’s particularly crucial now to set and agree on tangible metrics and desired outcomes.
In a nutshell? Don’t put your offsite off.
Effective leadership development has never been quite so important, and waiting for the return to business as usual is simply not an option. Not only is a digital offsite a great opportunity to really test the raw power of outcome-focussed, metric-driven development – it’s a surefire way to make sure your team is set up for success (whether it’s online or back in the real world).
We Are Unity work with Australia’s largest and most complex organisations to create offsite leadership development that creates real commercial impact – and COVID-19 hasn’t slowed us down. We’d love to partner with you to do the same.
To find out how we bring communication expertise and organisational psychology together, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 8, 2020, We Are Unity