Importance of Pre-offsite Meeting Consultations – # 3 Non-Attendees

July 20, 2015

CEO’s of organizations regularly hold offsite planning meetings with their executive team and/or with the Board of Directors. Likewise, Department Heads sometimes brings their team together especially if they are geographically dispersed.

Often, these sessions are held on an annual basis, and the topics can be varied such as strategic planning, annual plans or to address operational issues.

I have found that holding pre-offsite meeting consultations with attendees, and sometimes with non-attendees, can dramatically improve the outcomes of the sessions. I have compiled a listing of 8 reasons why the consultations are so effective and each Monday over the summer I will provide the detailed explanation for one of the reasons. It will be a quick 2 minute read each week. Previous weeks’ blogs will remain on the website.

Reason #1 Effectiveness – Maximizes the value of the time spent at the offsite meeting (July 7)

Reason #2 Agenda –Provides key insights that assist with setting the meeting agenda (July 13)

Reason #3 Non Attendees – Enables non-attendees to contribute effectively and to have their voice heard

Conducting pre-meeting consultations can, and often should, be expanded beyond the group of people that will be attending the sessions themselves.

Getting information from staff on the topics to be discussed at the offsite can be tremendously valuable. Depending on the size of the organization, obtaining input could be from all staff or from a representative sampling, most often through focus group sessions. Employees are well aware of when the leadership group goes offsite and they have a vested interest in the outcomes. Furthermore, if staff buy-in is important the ability for them to contribute their opinions in advance is very important. One client that I work with always provides an overview of the offsite proceedings and outcomes within weeks of the conclusion of the offsite meetings.

If the offsite are Departmental sessions, then it may be appropriate to solicit the input from the leadership team/executive of the organization. Two examples:

The Human Resources Department of a large organization was undertaking the development of an HR Strategy for the firm. In addition to consulting with the HR representatives prior to the sessions, one-on-one consultations were held with the CEO and all members of the executive team. The input of the executive provided their expectations surrounding the strategy. In addition, the CEO kicked off the two day working sessions and returned at the end to receive an overview of progress made.

The Finance Department of this organization was undertaking a review of the budgeting processes that were felt to be cumbersome and needlessly time consuming. In this case, input was again solicited from the executive team on their expectations of a revamped budget process and the resultant changes were on point ensuring a more effective and efficient process meeting everyone’s’ needs going forward.

Reason #4 Confidentiality – The value of “in confidence” consultations (July 27)

Reason #5 Short Meetings – Provides ability to have very effective short meetings (August 3)

Reason #6 Focus Shift – Sometimes results in a major shift in focus (August 10)

Reason #7 Key Question – The value of one open ended question (August 17)

Reason #8 Facilitator Participation – Creates ability for facilitator to contribute (August 24)

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