27 Mar Insights from off-sites
The other day in course of a call with one of my prospective partners I was quite surprised to learn that some of big consulting firms outlay budgets in the order of tens of millions for off-sites. Off-sites, that are primarily meant as get-aways for employees to come back re-charged, renewed and re-furbished. Purely from a resource management standpoint, to me, it is about refurbishing the human ‘resource’, which would have got drained and depleted endeavoring to deliver on a job that has little or nothing to do with her passion or interest. It’s about an overhaul preparing employees to get more juice squeezed out of them in terms of delivery and performance.
Most off-sites are designed to have blend of popular energizers (awards, games, booze and bash) and ‘business’ sessions (messages making the future look rosier than what the drained and depleted souls can imagine). The simplistic expectation is that the off-sighters, on their return, will be motivated to deliver more, leading to an overall improvement in performance of business which will partially or completely offset expenses incurred.
Most of us suspect and some of us know that this hardly ever happens. More often than not, off-sites turn out to be more of wasteful and decadent getaways, not creating much value for the business. The fun element also, being rather synthetic and engineered, has a short-lived feel-good effect on the participants. And worst still, the renewed demand and pressure of work hits hard much before they have unwound and recovered from the hectic and physically exhausting jamboree.
Why does this happen? Is it something about the venue, the activities or something else?
No. There is nothing wrong with venue or the activities or even. The flaw lies in the very premise that off-sites – the way they are conceived and designed – will recharge and motivate the employees to come back and perform better. The design is synthetic. The outcome anticipated is artificial. And the entire thing is reduced to a tokenistic ritual.
It’s very difficult, nigh impossible, to fool a human being and humanistic systems with some acts of tokenism. The mind and body can be fooled but not the deeper understanding and experience. While most of the activities ‘thrown in’ as energizers and motivators can create temporary adrenaline rush, forget the same high being sustained, the system immediately after getting out of such stimulating experience, to compensate for the artificially induced high, goes into a state of withdrawal or even a mild depression, leading to a dip in the performance which gradually recovers over time. The offsite is soon forgotten as just another ritual. The usual ‘grind’ once again consumes the employees’ spirit – till another off-site happens next year / quarter.
How can one make such hi-expense endeavors more meaningful? How can off-sites be converted into investments with high returns?
From my experience of having worked closely with several thousands of corporate citizens and my understanding of how the human volition works, off-sites can be made into powerful interventions for the participants to gather deep insights and make wondrous discoveries about themselves, which can set-off a transformational process – a process of blossoming and fruition.
- Instead of focusing on cheap and arousing means of entertainment, look at innocuously crafted sessions of edutainment. One of the ways could be to enable exposition of in-house talents either through individual performances or through a well-orchestrated, well-rehearsed group performance which gives them a first-hand experience of how teams create synergy. Activities in Nature and uncertain terrain with facilitated exploration are also richly rewarding.
- The business sessions can be more collaborative. Instead of reeling out decks of slides, get someone to create an appreciative space and facilitate a brainstorming session or a guided dialog to draw upon the collective wisdom of the participants, which can then be consolidated and blessed by the leadership team.
- Replace meaningless social games with activities which can bring about reflective exploration – with self, with group, with leadership or could be even the values and culture practiced in the organization. Instead of just getting people to go wild playing the game and leaving it at that, let the groups be observed and observation data shared in a manner the reflection is triggered.
- Re-visit your decision to hire expensive motivational speakers whose sole purpose is to dazzle the audience with their performance. Instead look for someone who has a feel and understanding of your business and can bring about a transformation in the perspective of the employees by engaging with them, holding up a mirror to get them see themselves and inspiring them to embark on a meaningful and joyful journey of discovery for excellence.
Yes. Your off-sites can be gold mines of valuable insights. Insights that can transform your human ‘resource’ into co-creators and co-owners. People, who would, with pride, co-hold their organization to be the best in class, if not an all-time landmark to work for.
Shall be glad to offer my services as a Transformational Coach, Speaker and enabler to make your off-site more meaningful, more valuable.
Visit http://www.indroneil.com/transformational-speaking/ andhttp://www.indroneil.com/about/profile/ for details.
Reachme@indroneil.com to involve me in designing your off-site for insights.