Importance of Pre-offsite Meeting Consultations – # 8 Facilitator Participation

August 24, 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 (July 28)

Reason #5 Short Meetings – Provides ability to have very effective short meetings (August 4)

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)

One of the benefits of holding the pre meeting consultations is that the facilitator becomes very knowledgeable about the items to be discussed at the offsite sessions. This knowledge base is further enhanced if the facilitator has worked or been involved with the organization previously. The facilitator then brings an understanding of the culture and how things work at the client. This knowledge also can be enhanced by any professional qualifications that the facilitator may have.

In one particular assignment, the facilitator had been involved with the organization for over ten years.

The input from the one-on-one consultations indicated that something was amiss. During the planning sessions the facilitator was able to probe a bit more into the perceived problem and as a result made several recommendations, not directly related to the topics of discussion during the meetings, to the client in the post meeting report. It was a bit of an “aha moment” and the recommendations were implemented.

In another example, the planning session was focused on improving a company’s budget processes. Having conducted the one-on-one consultations the facilitator was able to leverage his professional accounting designation and corporate experiences in this area both in setting the agenda and contributing to the discussion.

The ability to contribute to the discussion must be managed very carefully however. There is a need to balance active participation with facilitating the session to ensure that it truly remains the clients meeting.

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