Off site team meeting nightmares

Learn from other people's mistakes!

Off site team meeting nightmares are easy to avoid, when you use this checklist.

Here are some of the nightmares that can occur when you don’t!

Bringing your facilitator in early will help you plan properly. It will cost you no more, but it will make a successful off site much more likely.

off site team meeting Off site team meeting Nightmare 1: Wrong venue

If you get the choice of venue wrong, your off site team meeting can easily turn into a nightmare situation.

One of the best examples of off site nightmares that we have come across is Alan’s story about facilitating an off site at an RSL Club. The room included poker machines, which people began to use from about 11:30.

By midday, the calls for “Number 23, your chips are ready” began. It’s hilarious. If it’s not your offsite!. 

Phil ran a great off site meeting in a new local restaurant. He wasn’t keen but the client was certain it would work. The room was next to the staff cloakroom. Waiters started arriving at work and chatting around the llaw. Then, the attendees listen while the chef rebuked his apprentice.

Maybe this wasn’t the best venue.

One of the many breakout sessions at an expensive off site team meeting was held in a rehearsal space of a major theatre. While the participants were busy discussing how to deal with the latest corporate changes, the make-up artist, hairdresser and actors in the green-room next door exchanged gossip on Charlie Sheen’s drinking habits, quite loudly.

Sometimes, the wrong venue is purely in the wrong suburb. I once worked at a great, inspiring venue. Every room was decorated differently. One room had fake grass. Another had fountains between plexiglass on all four walls. They also had a toy-room. But our participants were up to an hour late because it was out of the CBD in a cul-de-sac that taxis had difficulty finding.

For tips on choosing the right venue for your off-site, bring a facilitator in early, and follow this checklist.

Off site team meeting Nightmare 2: Wrong facilitator

off site team meeting

Sometimes, even if you get the right venue, you could have the wrong facilitator. Here are some failures which our clients have told us about.

One client engaged an industrial engineer to help them solve some workflow problems at an off site team meeting.

Unfortunately, he was used to advising, not facilitating.

He grilled participants until he found what he thought was the right solution for their problem. Then he sent everyone home. And he wrote it up. Predictably no one had ownership of the solution.

Whether his solution had merit no one could tell. 

Click here to get information about the qualities of a great facilitator

off site team meeting

Off site team meeting Nightmare 3: Too much PowerPoint, not enough discussion

Death by PowerPoint.

If you have more than 40 minutes of one person talking, then there needs to be at least 20 minutes of discussions, questions and analyses of what has been said. There must always be time for questions.

If speakers are afraid of questions, then try parallel discussion a pecha kucha, or small group discussion. Click here to get an off site team meeting agenda template.

Off site team meeting Nightmare 4: Wrong food

off site team meetingOf all the complaints about events, food is number one.

You need to be prepared to supply an array of food. At last count, you need to take into account all these styles: Vegetarian, gluten-free, nut-free, no salicylates, amines, benzoates, sorbates, sucrose or fructose.

Part of planning an off site team meeting is uncovering the food allergies and intolerances of the group.

Plus you cannot scrimp on the food. One of my clients swears by sausage rolls for morning tea. She says it’s the cheapest way to build team morale. Find out what your people love, and provide that.

Off site team meeting Nightmare 5: Wrong topics

off site team meeting

Of course, the most important thing is that the off site team meeting be about the right topic.

One of my clients had a recent round of retrenchments.

They tried to run a strategy meeting off site. But the only thing that the participants were really interested in discussing were the retrenchments and project funding cuts. They wanted to know how it would impact them. They were in survival mode, not planning mode.

At the other end 0f the scale, Brendan chosen off site team meeting venue included a free team-building cooking lesson. Brendan’s wanted to build team with this off site, so it fitted.

Unfortunately, the cooking lesson divided the team into three groups, and put them in three separate rooms. Each sub team finished at a different time, and instead of being encouraged to support the other teams they all went off separately to make telephone calls, answer e-mails, etc.

You cannot build a team by separating the team into separate parts.

Choosing the right topics is much easier when you have someone helping you plan. Prioritize the critical corporate issues and solve them these first.

You cannot solve every problem at a single off-site meeting.

But you can start with a challenge and build resilience in your team by allowing them fix the problem Get Cindy Tonkin to help you.