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Seb Anthony

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We are a voluntary organisation with c.40 staff and 11 directors. We want to organize an awayday so that staff and directors are more in tune with each other`s roles. Any suggestions to make the day a success would be welcome.
Nicole Dickins

5 Responses

  1. Away Day
    I facilitated one last year on a ratio similar to yours. Do a little audit first with a sample. Find out what’s needed.I found that the away day – an informal sounding event – is a paradox.Paradox in the sense that our agenda for the day DID NOT feature a lot of team building games but formal sessions using SWOT and looking at achivements,celebrations and year ahead – and 5 years ahead

    Followed by short feedback sessions on action plans in pockets of the irganisation when back at the ranch!!!

    Good Luck. You will enjoy it


  2. Use an Independant facilitator
    In my experience away days can be hard work for particpants and facilitators and alot is being asked of alot of people over a long period of time. Using an independant facilitator allows everyone in the organisation to particpate on the same level-if managers/directors facilitate it can sometimes look like they are pushing a certain agenda. If you can afford it and can find a good one they are usually worth the cost.

    I have also found that away days held at hotels/conference centres where leisure facilities are available to attendees after the days work provide an opportunity to “thank” staff for their contribution.

  3. Go for it!
    Hi Nicole,
    Over the past years, I’ve facilitaed a number of “Away days” or “Off-sites”, both as an internal and an external Facilitator.

    I believe the most critical point is for the Organiser/sponsor/owner of the off-site to spend A LOT of time upfront with the Facilitator, to ensure that they are both on the same wavelength and able to work with one another. Too often, I’ve been called in at short notice to rescue a situation which was heading for disaster because no-one had realised how much work was involved in setting up & running the event so that it appeared “comfortable”.

    If you’d like answers to specifics, feel free to email me directly.

    Good luck


  4. Independant Facilitation is a great starting point
    First of all I believe that it is essential to use an independant facilitator for any such event. This person however does need a very clear understanding of what an ideal outcome would look like. The independance of such facilitation does allow for the challenge of the views of all attenddes. Interpersonal skill is also a must & good observation skills are critical. In addition the ability to “tell it as it is” is a very strong tool for any team dynamics session, so your facilitator needs to be able to communicate very effectively. If you combine all these atributes with proper risk assessment (there is always a danger that any physical/outdoor activity can bring out the worst & best in people from all backgrounds hence this need for strong assessment) then you have a great chance of success.
    Good luck & most importantly ENJOY.

  5. So, you want to be more aligned – then have fun!
    Your short question suggests that you are seeking a mix of understanding and alignment and I would thoroughly support previous comments about the value of an independent facilitator and good preparation. Reducing ‘Power Differences’ is important and the facilitator will treat everyone as equals; moreover, having someone independent overseeing the day enables everyone to immerse themselves in what’s going on without having to be concerned about the process.
    The challenge in a voluntary organisation is to get people to WANT to go on the awayday and to enjoy it so much that they want to go back next time. FUN is the key here, use of creative/right brain techniques such as drawing, playing with toys, using metaphor, etc. Some individuals may not necessarily feel that it is OK to have fun and they can (and in my experience will) be led into it by the facilitator and those who are willing to play. Remember that one of the facilitator’s tricks of team dynamics is that they need structure early on so they will usually do whatever you ask them to…..
    Having them draw and then discuss their percpetion of what the organisation is there for, how their own role contributes and how their boss/colleague’s roles contribute will help. Can you frame it as an exploration of the Internal/External supply chain or custoemr service delivery process?
    All sorts of ideas – a decent facilitator will want to spend time with you and your people exploring specifically what you and they want to achieve from the day and then suggest detailed ways to deliver.
    Finally, you will need to answer the “So what?”. Having spent a good day away together understanding each other’s roles, what will be different, what actions need to be taken, by whom? This is critical as it will help everyone feel that they have achieved something as well as had a good time.
    As a voluntary organisation, you might well persuade someone local to volunteer their services to you…if you are anywhere near Leeds try me…


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