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We can help with all your pre arrival planning. We understand how important it is to get everything just right. Call us on 01260 226609 and we will do our best to help!
PLANNING YOUR AWAY DAY
TOP TIPS AND QUESTIONS TO ASK !
1) Why are you having this event? (really???)
Firstly can you define your overall objectives? For example:-
Improving communication effectiveness
Addressing a specific business challenge
Strategic budgeting, etc
Then can you translate your objective if at all possible into measurable goals.? For example:-
To complete a review of our new product development, rank the top three investment opportunities and complete a 3 year business plan for each of them.
If possible make your objectives SMART.
A Assignable (to an individual)
T Time limited (achievable within a defined period)
2) Choose Your Attendees
There are a number of questions to ask. For example:-
Who are the most important people to attend your event?
Would it be feasible/desirable to go ahead if anyone was not available?
Will attendance be compulsory?
What is the team mix like?
Do they know each other well, or not even met yet?
What are their roles?
Will the presence of a senior member of staff restrict the honest and frank involvement of other members of the team?
What challenges have they recently faced?
What future challenges are they facing?
Is there anything going on at this time that could impact on the effectiveness of the programme?
3) Choose Your Date
If at all possible plan your event well in advance (ideally three months plus).
Have you got the time to:
Co-ordinate all delegate diaries?
Book great facilitators if required?
Book the right venue?
Arrange any other activities?
Does the date tie in with other relevant timescales? For example:-
Product Launch Cycles?
Finally, try and avoid any dates which are tricky for some of your attendees, eg finance department staff at Year End.
4) Choosing Your Venue
One of the most important decisions to be taken is where to hold your event. (We would say that wouldn’t we?!?).
Is it a central location and easily reachable by your delegates?
Does it have the equipment and space you need? (both inside and out)?
Is there good and safe car parking?
What sort of environment is appropriate for what you want to achieve?
Luxury and Formal. Good for impressing and motivating, but it could be intimidating and less good for relaxing creatively and team building.
Comfortable and relaxing. The definition of relaxing is “be or feel at ease”. Often the best venues for teams fall into this category as they can be very productive environments.
Does it fit your budget?
Are there other ways to make your money go further?.
Eg will delegates share bedrooms (This isn’t always appropriate, but don’t assume they wont – you may be surprised how usual this is in business today!)?
Can you take your own food and drinks? This can save hundreds of pounds!
Have you considered somewhere a bit different?
Accommodation doesn’t just have to be in the classic business hotel. An exclusive self catering venue means:-
No danger of your competitors staying there at the same time and overhearing your conversations and plans in the bar!
Freedom to stay up as late as you like (no one closes the bar!), set your own rules, and use the space exactly as you want.
Flexibility to self cater as part of your team building or get in Chefs to cater for you (or have a bit of both!).
Buy your own drinks at supermarket not restaurant prices, so saving lots of money for other things!
Can you easily book local suppliers to make your event really different, productive and special?
5) Should you hire a Facilitator or not?
There are various definitions of a Facilitator, but broadly the role helps groups get a good outcome or reach common objectives. Facilitators manage the methodology and process, not the content.
Is your chosen Facilitator (whether a member of your team or a specialist from outside your organization):-
Neutral to the discussions?
A great listener?
Able to identify key threads and ‘dead end’ contributions?
Have the skills to intervene productively?
Able to manage negative team behaviours?
Able to prevent dominance by one or more individuals and encourage participation by more reluctant members?
Know when to move from idea generation to consensus?
A great time manager?
For professional Facilitators see www.facilitator.org.uk
6) Team Building Tactics
Many delegates are now used to some quite extravagant hospitality and team building activities, and whilst there is always a role for these, keeping it simple can be a refreshing and productive change.
What are the main objectives of your event and how can your fun activities best be suited to the tasks to be tackled?
What are your delegates, ages, inclinations and physical abilities. It is important not to leave someone out. Pick tasks that appeal to all. Eg:-
Adrenaline Junkies – eg hire in a climbing wall at your venue and (qualified and insured) instructors or get out on the real rocks!
For creative challenges - do a prior activity that is new, eg learn to milk a cow, or make chocolate creations.
Gentler activities – eg a guided walk in beautiful countryside with tasks along the way.
Will your delegates talk about your event long after they have returned home?
For great help and advice try these contacts whom our guests have raved about!
It is also possible to buy a selection of ‘games’ designed for groups to bond, or reach consensus, build leadership skills, etc. See www.BrefiGroup.co.uk
There is also a book you may find useful – Games for Legendary Away Days by Karen Cooley and Kirsty McEwan.
7) Distribute Background Information well in advance to delegates
Ensure everyone is well informed of what is expect4ed of them!
Do they have practical information?
Arrival and departure times
Directions, map, Sat Nav information
Emergency phone numbers
Dress code and any special requirements of what else they need to bring?
Do you have their information?
All delegate mobile numbers
Emergency contact numbers
Special dietary requirements, etc
Have you provided them with the event information?
Objectives of the event
Background required reading
Possibly a bit of mystery and anticipation!
8) Start of the event
Books have been written on this vast topic! All we want to say is:-
Have you outlined the event?
Set the agenda?
Set the rules?
Eg Switch off mobiles and laptops when not essential
Respect everyone’s opinions
No such thing as a bad idea
Leave job titles as you enter
Keep to the times allocated
Worked out how you are going to make it productive and enjoyable?
Know who is going to take notes, etc
How you are going to get commitment from everyone attending?
Got an ice breaker to kick off the day?
Eg ask everyone to say three things about themselves – 2 true , one false. Everyone has to guess which is true!
9) Write down your Conclusions
Don’t lose track of those great ideas generated!
Who have you allocated the job of scribing too (one or more delegates)?
Who have you allocated the job of co-ordinating all the information when you get back to base?
Are all actions allocated to individuals?
Have you been really firm on yourself re these points? – don’t waste everything you will have achieved!
10) Evaluation and Follow Through
The most frequent complaint about away days is that all is forgotten a month after the event. So…
Have you planned how you are going to evaluate the success (before it happens?)
Diarised a date when you send out the conclusions and action plan (with actions allocated)?
Please call Party Houses on 01260 226609 and we will be happy to offer and help and advice we can!
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