Gro: ing your firm – getting a return from team away days

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Gro: ing your firm – getting a return from team away days

Many people view a team away day as a bit of fun or a distraction from work (and a potentially costly one at that). When the average professional services firm plan a team away day for 15 people, with an average charge out rate of say £150/hour this means an investment of about £1,000 pp…so £15,000 overall; and that’s before any costs for the venue, refreshments and accommodation!

 

If a business was investing this much in a new piece of software or a new recruit there would be a plan and a business case with agreed deliverables and benefits. So, why should the planning and business case for a team away day be any different?

 

Having been on more away days than we can count, either as an attendee, facilitator, organiser or key note speaker, we thought you’d like to learn about the steps we took when planning theGrogroup’s team away day.

 

Naturally we wanted to ensure everyone had a great day and got the opportunity to meet and get to know each other better – but we also wanted to ensure we moved our team and our business forward.

 

These are the steps we followed, and those we recommend our clients follow when we are organising or facilitating their team away days:

 

Agreeing objectives – this step comes first as it’s the most important aspect! You need to be absolutely clear on the outcomes that you want from the day and how you will know if you’ve achieved it. This means investing time in thinking and planning (an away day is a costly project after all), as well as designing, preparing, communicating and practicing. This sounds obvious, but from experience, this is where many away days fall down.

 

Who will attend? Carefully consider who needs to be there and only go ahead if most people can attend. This may seem obvious, but people with strong views find it more difficult to accept decisions made in their absence and discussions risk being reopened and the momentum being lost if you return to the office with an action plan only for someone to then put a spoke in the wheel! We used ”doodle” a great on-line scheduling tool to help agree the best date.

 

Consult & Communicate – Ask people what they would like from the day; get them to help with the planning and developing the agenda. Ahead of the day ensure attendees know what the objectives are and have some idea of what will happen.

 

The Agenda – An agenda is good in terms of an overall outline for the day; but don’t be completely fixed to it as from experience its rare to stick to a set timetable. Team Away DayDon’t plan to cover too much, focus on a few big items and do them well and also ensure you build enough free time into the day – you are not likely to get all of the people together again for some time so ensure they have enough time to meet each other and have discussions.

 

Location – it needs to be relatively easy for all to get to and a great venue will encourage attendance. You should ensure the space is big enough for the purpose of the event and preferably has natural day light.

 

On the day:

 

Team Away Day

  • Think about the room set up beforehand, in particular what you want to achieve from the day. We wanted to evoke a sense of belonging, and the addition of our branding and small touches such as flowers on the tables contributed to this.
  • You’ve consulted with the attendees and shared the agenda beforehand, however you also need to recognise that no matter how the day is run it won’t hit the mark for everyone. People learn and take their energy in different ways, e.g. some hate group work; some love it, some like discussions; some want decisions.
  • Make it interactive – avoid death by powerpoint. Make any “presentations” short and if you have a room of great people use them; we certainly did!

Team Away Day

  • Collaborate, get the team working together and mix it up by getting people to work with others they’ve not met before/don’t normally work with. We saw our day as a fantastic opportunity to spend time with all of our associates and used them to drive ideas and conversation. And they didn’t fail to deliver – producing a mountain of ideas to make a difference to the clients we work with
  • End with a wrap up and summary of the day so people leave on a high and clarity on the future ahead

 

Follow up – everyone invests their time, shares ideas and hopefully return to the day job on a high.  So, in order to keep the momentum going and capitalise on the “feel good factor” a follow up should be sent out asap (ideally the next working day) including a thank you for attending and ensuring things happen on the back of the day. Even better if this is personalised, our team each received a handwritten thank you card.

 

And remember to measure the outcomes of the day against the objectives set at the outset!

 

So why invest in a team day? A great event should achieve at least some of the following, and we are delighted to say that we managed to tick all the boxes:

 

  • An update on performance and future plans
  • A more motivated team
  • A clearer sense of shared purpose
  • New ideas for better working
  • More clearly defined and understood roles
  • Appreciation of team members’ strengths and attributes
  • Clear actions not endless flipcharts that are filed away never to be referred back to
  • Space to think and generate new ideas
  • A sense of pride and belonging within the team

 

So looking ahead to theGrogroup’s next team day, what would we do differently?

 

Well we plan to invite clients, as this is a great opportunity to get their feedback and to get to know them even better in a more informal environment. This is something we’ve recommended to our own clients, and those that are brave enough to do it have seen the benefits.

 

To find out more about how to run an effective team away day please fill out an enquiry form or get in touch on 01892 610060.

 

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