Here’s the takeaway: When working through issues with your leadership team, an off-site session space helps complement the process.
When I work with leadership teams in all-day EOS sessions, one of the most important things is that we have an open and honest environment. One of the best ways to create that is to get people out of their everyday environment and off-site.
My session space is carefully designed to be a place where people feel comfortable. Getting the leadership team off their home turf, and pushing them off-balance a little bit in neutral ground, allows everyone to be more open and honest than they would be in the office. They can focus on the issues at hand instead of all the normal, everyday distractions they encounter in their office. We don’t have to worry about someone sticking their head in for “just one quick question.” And when we take a bio-break, I know people won’t get ambushed with an outside issue when they head to the bathroom. It is key to keep everyone focused on working on the business, and not getting distracted by the day-to-day operations of the business.
When I sat in on a meeting the other week with one of my teams in their home office, I paid close attention to how people acted in the glass conference room. I could tell just by watching their body language: When someone walked by, the person speaking would stop talking or speak more softly, even if they knew that the person outside the room couldn’t hear them.
Universally, I find people will be more honest, less distracted and committed if they’re going somewhere else, so getting people out of their usual location is really critical. In my session space, we have seating for ten, multiple whiteboards, and a special “Issues” board. There’s a fridge full of beverages ranging from water to Red Bull, and big jars of nuts, candy and protein bars on the table. Keeping everyone’s sugar up helps with long days. We have reminders of different EOS tenets posted on the walls and plenty of natural light. People laugh, but it’s amazing how important natural light and food can be during a nine-hour session day. It sounds really silly, but I even have a rule that people can’t have pasta or anything really heavy for lunch. They go into a food coma, and then it’s more difficult for them to stay engaged and focused.
I make sure everyone turns their phones off. The temperature is carefully managed and even the chairs are specially designed to be comfortable and optimal for sitting for a long time. The windows and natural light are key. I’ve done sessions in conference rooms without natural light, and you just lose any sense of time. If the session is in the winter, it’s even worse: You go in when it’s dark, and you may come out when it’s dark, and you never see the light of day. So, the windows in our space are light enough to keep people awake, but not large enough to be distracting. The size is spacious, but still intimate enough for people to have a good conversation.
When people head off-site, they can focus on the issues at hand instead of normal, everyday distractions. It’s important for the room, and the space, to complement the discussion, not detract from it.
If you have questions about using our session space for your own team or how to take your team off-site, feel free to reach out anytime. We’d be happy to help.