Corporate & Board Retreats --
When a team convenes for an “off-site,” it is important to maximize effectiveness and leverage results. How can you make the best use of the time and energy invested?
Corporate and Board Retreats: Best Practices
Based on our years of experience helping corporate and association clients, it is important to keep this Top 10 List in mind:
- Ensure that intact leadership and management teams are present
- Develop a clear and concise Agenda, with associated outcomes and Action Plans (participants taking responsibility for results), distributed sufficiently in advance
- Prepare, prepare, prepare
- Assign responsibility for keeping time and taking minutes
- Park non-sequiturs in a Parking Lot (to be revisited later)
- Before concluding, list expected Outcomes and ensure participants articulate associated Action Plans
- Ensure that Action Plans take into consideration:
- Adjourn on time
- Distribute meeting minutes ASAP after Meeting
- Ensure that diligent and focused follow-up is part of the process
A more detailed explanation of each item follows:
Plainly and simply, if those being asked to execute strategy and work toward goals are not present, then how can they be expected to “buy in” to identified goals and objectives? While this may seem “common sense” to us, sometimes, the “obvious” has been overlooked.
If we don’t develop an Agenda which is focused on specific goals and outcomes, we are doomed to failure. Agendas should be developed sufficiently in advance so participants can review, perhaps comment and certainly prepare.
When you properly prepare, whether this includes surveys, interviews, focus groups, brainstorming and/or pre-meeting planning, you lay the foundation for a successful meeting and significantly increase the probability of achieving project goals and objectives. This cannot be over-stated or over-emphasized. Practice diligently and you will execute effectively.t of how to apply what they have learned.
While many of us have heard the phrase “staying focused and ‘on message’” attributed to successful political advisors and candidates, the same maxim applies to achieving corporate results. Honoring everyone’s time, in conjunction with accurately recording discussions and key points made, are critical ways to keep things moving, on pace and to keeping participants engaged.
Unfortunately, we all have experienced the meeting Agenda which was somehow allowed to go “off track”. Frankly, this is always the result of poor meeting management and/or facilitation, including knowing when to park an “off-line” or sub-group discussion item onto and into that wonderful, visible white space known as the Parking Lot. We park cars; we can also park ideas and suggestions better addressed later, often by other groups.
Without participants making public commitments and being held accountable and responsible, nothing is accomplished except some ‘great copnversations’. Hah! Announcing and scheduling Action is the first and foremost responsibility anyone and everyone who participates in a meeting is expected on which to deliver. Whether the goal is to save costs, generate targeted sales results, improve service delivery or adminster more efficiently and effectively, nothing is accomplished unless articulated, scheduled and accounted for.
Action items should always address:
- Who will do what by when?
- How will results and progress (milestones) be reported?
- How will we be ensuring and who will be ensuring accountability?
This isn’t rocket science, unless we are rocket scientists. Keep It Simple, Smarty…(KISS)
This time-honored and proven practice is so frequently dishonored, we feel compelled to remind us all of its’ importance. One of our corporate goals is to end 100% of our meetings on time; at last check, we were averaging 98.2% success. Not bad, but we can do even better!
In our experience, “ASAP” and ‘immediately’ mean that meeting minutes are distributed preferably, within 24 hours, and certainly, within 48 hours of a meeting’s conclusion. The fresher the ideas which are captured and the faster they are disctributed, the greater the probability that action will more closely resemble or exceed plan.
A famous President once said, “I am focused like a laser beam on the economy.” We best serve our pruposes when we remain focused “like a laser beam”, relentlessly, on Agenda, Goals, Action Plans and results. Scheduling and planning goals with milestones, supported by scheduled reporting and accountability, goes a very long way to achieving goals and recognizing measurable and verifiable performance improvement.
If you would like to discuss using a facilitator at your next corporate or board retreat, please give us a call at 978-433-2040, for a complimentary consultation.