Every manager wants to have that all-star team. Have a problem? Let those guys help you out. Need something accomplished? Give it to that team. While having an all-star team at your fingertips is certainly nice, wouldn’t it be better if you could have an entire workforce full of all-stars?
Off-sites are nothing new. Organizations routinely schedule them for leisure or team-building activities, but what about hosting an off-site to help polish some important skills. That is exactly what Indianapolis based iGoDigital did when they came up with the idea of “Innovation Days”. “We shut down the office for two days, turn off our phones and email and go off-site,” says Eric Tobias, iGoDigital’s founder, in a recent Inc. article. Their goal was to let employees experience new roles and work on developing certain skills that they would not normally use in their day-to-day roles. This strategy not only helps break up the routine, but also helps generate new ideas as different people with different views take on new roles. It can even help people understand and anticipate challenges that their co-workers face, smoothing out future work flow.
So, here are 3 tips you should use for you next off-site to help you get more out of your employees:.
1. Get people out of their usual roles
“We all fall into habits, and we get stuck in our own box,” Tobias says. It’s important to break up the routine for employees. So during these off-sites (like iGoDigital’s “Innovation Days”) try switching jobs and roles of everyone. For example during iGoDigital’s off-site, they broke up the company into teams with “One team work[ing] on the website; another work[ing] on the user experience, from creating an account through using the software.” Because each team needed a designer and a marketer, it made is really easy for people to try out new roles.
2. Make it fun
Like most off-sites they are intended to also be a bit light hearted and intended as a bonding experience for staff. Tobias recommends making sure to try and keep your team’s off-site fun by purposefully scheduling it during a fun event (like the NCAA March Madness tournament). This allows employees to have the game on while they are working. Also it’s important to plan your off-site to not go longer than the time allotted – the last thing you want is forcing employees to work long hours for something that’s supposed to be fun.
3. Give employees a sense of the choices you face
The best way to learn something is through experience. So what better way to teach employees the challenges and difficulties of other departments that they may work with than by letting them experience it from the opposite end of the table. By switching roles, it allows others to understand the complexities that others are dealing with and can help them anticipate these challenges next time.
So why not take an off-site and use it to focus on developing certain, important skills in a fun environment. But be careful, your employees may enjoy it so much that getting them to focus back on their daily tasks can be a bit difficult!