By Bailey Anne Dermanci
Go offsite for better planning.
“We all get so caught up in the moment of what we’re doing every day, it’s hard to hit that reset button and get pulled away from all that and see life from a different perspective.”
Tony Stewart, Former Professional Stock Car Racing Driver and Current NASCAR Team Owner
It’s hard to plan for the future when you’re stuck in the daily grind.
It can be especially frustrating when you have already identified specific areas for improvement, and you just need to commit some time to developing a plan for implementation.
There is one surprisingly simple strategy for encouraging innovative thinking when your team needs to tackle a tough workplace challenge… a change of scenery. Going offsite can help break through roadblocks and inspire creative problem solving, whether you already know what needs to be done and just need to figure out how to do it, you still need to identify the core issue, or you want to reignite team cohesion around a shared goal.
Offsite meetings and planning retreats work by:
1. Breaking old routines and patterns of thinking. A simple change of routine helps people to think differently about an idea. Spending work time in new surroundings can open the door to more effective brainstorming sessions by eliminating barriers that may exist in the office.
2. Getting your team away from distractions. Giving your team a neutral location in which to work will help to focus their attention on the task at hand. Away from their desks and the inevitable interruptions of phone, email and pop-in traffic, they can accomplish more (and often better) planning.
3. Providing an opportunity for outside perspectives. Inviting an outside speaker or facilitator to your off-site event is a way to further disrupt the normal patterns of the office and encourage innovation. Your employees will respond differently to a new person, and the facilitator’s questions will prompt new responses and thought processes.
It’s not enough to just leave the office for a day.
Communicating the goals of your offsite ahead of time, selecting the right venue, and planning activities that engage every member of the team, while keeping the group focused on the issues at hand are vital steps to conducting an offsite that works.
Need help planning an offsite for your team?
The Corporate Education and Government Solutions teams here at the Center for Professional Education help organizations plan and facilitate customized training solutions every day. When it comes to team offsite planning meetings, they can help you find a facilitator and book a venue on the UT Austin campus.
Bailey Anne Dermanci is a senior marketing coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis.
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