Most Common Offsite Planning Mistakes & Why You Need a Retreat Road Map

When carefully planned and facilitated, offsites can yield game-changing results for teams large and small. But anyone who’s put on a successful offsite will tell you, these extraordinary meeting opportunities have planning requirements that are just as unique.

To help you organize an offsite that will have the maximum impact, Arden’s coaches listed the biggest offsite planning mistakes you can make. See what not to do below.

1. Deciding the Logistics Before Determining the Objectives

One of the most common offsite planning missteps you can make is scheduling your offsite before you have a reason to. So many teams do this; they decide to get everybody together on November 15 for the afternoon, but they have no idea what they’ll be talking about.

Offsites should never be planned solely based on what the calendar says or what was done last year. They need to be held with a desired outcome in mind.

Upon reevaluating, you might find that November’s not the time to hold these discussions. Maybe it should be next year, next week, or even with different people. Figure out who the stakeholders are and what it is you want to get out of the event then tackle the date, time, and agenda.

2. Rushing Offsite Sessions

The second fundamental offsite planning mistake we see is not planning enough time for offsite sessions. A lot of people feel like they can have important conversations in a short time and tend to cut sessions shorter than they should be, by hours or even days.

It takes a significant amount of time to work through the content you’re examining on an offsite, which tends to be richer than your day-to-day staff meeting.

Give your group the time to fully explore each topic and get what they have to say out on the table for the best results, especially if you have a large team.

3. Making Your Offsite a Long Meeting in a Different Place

The third major offsite mistake planners make is treating offsite sessions like you would any other meeting, just in a place that has better views than your go-to conference room.

The reason people go offsite is to literally get a different perspective and step away from their daily tasks and distractions. If you don’t use offsites as an opportunity to learn and grow, you can’t expect a different outcome.

This is why you get a coach as a facilitator, try a new tool that everybody can use, or learn a new theory that you and your team will be able to apply long-term. Ask yourself: How am I challenging my team during this offsite? What are we doing differently?

4. Forgetting About Follow-Up

The final bigtime offsite mistake we see the most is neglecting to follow up on the progress made during the event and it’s a doozy. Nothing’s going to change if your team doesn’t have a mutual understanding of what took place during the offsite and who’s accountable for the actions and next steps that came out of those discussions.

Be proactive about how you’ll handle following up on these important steps and you’ll be able to reap real rewards from your hard work.

Get Offsite Savvy

As you can see, the way you go about planning an offsite directly affects the success of each session. To bring about real progress and forward momentum, you need to know your objectives, set aside ample time to discuss content that’s both unique and purposeful, and be determined to follow up and manifest what you’ve learned.

Want more help with getting your offsite planning on track? Download Arden’s free guide to successful offsite facilitations for more expert advice and tips