Apr 14 2019
Executive team offsites can provide an excellent opportunity to enhance team dynamics, raise understanding and build the basis for trust and clarifying strategic business objectives. They can also be cringe-worthy and end with no discernible outcomes.
Leaders’ approach brings objectivity via human data and engages the team with applicable exercises and direct feedback - all with a spotlight on outcome-focused actions that match the business objectives.
The CEO of a mid-sized financial services business had recently made significant changes to their executive team. A combination of retirements, a resignation and evolving business needs had resulted in two-thirds of the executive changing in just under a year.
The CEO needed to quickly bring the executive together to:
The CEO was also privately seeking to develop their own successor from within the new team, with a three-year horizon.
We recommended utilising insight from psychometrics to quickly identify the critical leadership traits possessed by the team, including:
Each team member completed Leaders’ psychometric surveys, which take about an hour.
Our next step was to hold one-to-one meetings to review their results in advance of the group offsite session. This significantly raised their self-awareness, highlighting strengths and predictable blindspots, and prepared them for the key issues to be raised at the offsite.
These sessions also help us get a broader picture of the team dynamics, the areas of group strength and likely team struggles.
We structured the offsite over two days. We planned day one to explore and understand the team dynamics and establish attitudes and actions that would enable this particular team to excel.
Day two focused on the business, articulating a desirable future for the firm and establishing a strategic plan of action to move towards this.
1. The analysis of the team’s values demonstrated a high emphasis on quality standards, both in terms of producing technical excellence and high personal standards.
2. The ‘theoretical mind’, which is also high, needs to be right, based on credible evidence and responds well to procedures based in evidence that enable high-quality outcomes to be achieved.
3. The ‘individualistic mind’ creates a competitive edge, a hard work ethic and a desire to be part of something highly credible.
Our experience tells us that this combination brings significant strength to the team - working hard to achieve high-quality outcomes.
The data also helps to predict potential blindspots, notably the potential for conflict over relatively small matters - the need to be ‘right’ about everything. In addition, seeking and openly receiving constructive criticism would be a stretch, with the potential for defensive responses rather than an openness to learn from others. This helped us to explore tactics and techniques that would enable the team to harness their strengths and overcome these potential weaknesses.
4. From the data, we can clearly see that levels of ‘team motivation’ (or energy) were widely disbursed. Represented graphically, we could identify those who were sources of positive energy for others. For example, Zoe in this chart is a source of both positivity and energy for the whole team. Adam has less energy and some negativity. The dynamics between them would look like this:
We explored ways in which the team could overcome these tensions, mutually supporting each other to reduce their stresses (first) and increase their energy (second). For some, this included some non-work related issues and simply knowing that their team members ‘had their backs’ was enough to bring an improvement in the dynamics. it was also important for those in box 1 - highly positively energised - to recognise that not everyone has the sustainable energy and resilience to press forward quickly with every new idea; sometimes they would need permission to run ahead, other times they would need to exercise a little patience.
5. The team possessed some ‘high productive motivation’ qualities. These included high attainment skill - the capacity and desire to ‘win’ mental rewards, e.g. new clients, good work and healthy relationships.
However, in addition, the team had an above-average propensity to self-defeat; some of the benefits of their productive skills would potentially slip away unnecessarily.
This insight helped us to explore what was really happening in the business.
As the data predicted, the team were great at winning new work. But they were also good at discounting their fees too quickly and often unnecessarily. Identifying that trait enabled them to build an action plan to quickly enhance margins and revenues from their existing business.
The insight we were able to bring created a strong basis on which to quickly address the critical team strengths, weaknesses and dynamics. Rather than a standard approach to building trust, we were able to facilitate a unique and tailored approach to enhancing understand, respect and genuinely effective teamwork, without building any ‘spaghetti towers’!
This set the team up exceptionally well for the second part of the offsite, establishing future objectives and a focused plan of action to achieve them.
Leaders’ offsite frameworks are grounded in our objectives to generate outcomes that can be applied in reality. This client’s offsite reflected some typical steps, including:
‘Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion’ - Simon Sinek.
Six months later, the team is performing exceptionally well.
We’re looking forward to our next offsite to review progress, recalibrate and propel forward towards the vision for the business.
If your organisation is undergoing change, faltering in reaching its objectives or has disruptive team dynamics, Leaders can facilitate a process that will be grounded in business objectives and benefit the bottom line.