Importance of Pre-offsite Meeting Consultations – # 4 Confidentiality

July 28, 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 (July 20)

Reason #4 Confidentiality – The value of “in confidence” consultations

Whenever I undertake pre-meeting one-on-one consultations, I always conduct them “in confidence”. If focus group sessions are held with employees, no attribution of who said what is made. The statement is made for both the consultations and group sessions that their collective voice will be presented at the offsite as “What We Heard”.

This provides the ability for participants, as well as non-participants, to truly speak their minds something that may well not be forthcoming at the offsite sessions themselves. Following the opening comment re confidentiality, I usually state “so please be candid” and people generally are.

It is critically important that no individual’s comments can be associated within the contents of “What We Heard”. They themselves can often see their voice but others cannot. This environment based on trust provides a solid base for the information presented at the commencement of the offsite and for the subsequent discussions and debate.

The value of this approach leads to a much more open and honest discussion at the offsite sessions on topics that are truly important to the individuals in attendance.

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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