Strategic Offsite Consulting
The most effective teams gather regularly to build team culture and develop the mindset required of engaged and effective professionals.
GEL’s consultants help senior leaders assess their teams, determine needs, and create a development roadmap.
GEL uses a consultative approach to ascertaining your team’s specific needs and objectives. We learn about your team through an advance team assessment that incorporates your company’s internal leadership development framework and learning objectives.
Challenging “Real-world” Experiences
Our multi-day offsite experiences and challenges are based on real-life communication difficulties and leadership acumen. They are also unique activities and opportunities to create new ways of working and lasting impact.
Based on Science
Neuroscience has proven adults learn best through experiences that take them outside their comfort zones and encourage self-discovery. Adults only form skills through repetition and practice in a positive environment. Incorporating experiential components with coaching and reflection allows for transformation of mindset, the most vital piece of whole person development. Clients who regularly incorporate GEL-facilitated offsites into their team development get the benefit of experiential science along with bottom-line driven speakers, content, and team specific workshops.
How it Works
Multi-day offsites create the opportunity for GEL to provide you with a deeper level of consulting and facilitation services before, during, and after experiential programming.
Our experiential programs are tailored to meet the specific objectives of your goals and outcomes. We assign one of our senior organizational development consultants to your experience team to conduct advance work and be your primary facilitator. Our consultant completes a set of initiatives to enhance effectiveness and assure that the benefits of the experiential program can be carried forward when back in the workplace.
Examples of Clients' Goals and Objectives
- Increase cohesiveness of senior managers and build team support of existing or new leadership
- Provide an opportunity to develop and practice communication and collaboration models and tools
- Focus attention on the need for clear individual roles and expectations, and clarify the goals and procedures for accountability systems
- Candidly identify and acknowledge areas of concern within leadership and management teams, connecting management practices with supervisory and staff outcomes
Step One: Getting to Know You, Your Goals, and Business Objectives
It’s important that GEL understands your team’s make-up, structure, and purpose to be able to help you discover the unique needs and the desired outcomes for your offsite. You’ll have a senior level consultant who will guide you through this first consultation to truly understand you, your team, and your leadership development plan or strategy.
Step Two: Pre-Offsite Team Self-Assessment
Prior to transformational offsite, your people complete a confidential questionnaire to share their own assessment of your team's objectives, strengths, challenges, and opportunities. Consolidated results frequently identify and uncover gaps in alignment, role clarity, and trust. Participation in the survey not only sets an inclusive, empowering context, but also helps focus the offsite design to specifically target the team's current mindset, roadblocks, and unique needs.
Step Three: The Experiential Program
During the experience, the consultant who completed the advance work serves as the lead facilitator. They observe your team in action, listen in on communications, and note the team's overall performance and cross-team dynamics. Particular attention is given to behaviors identified in the assessment and initial consultations.
The offsite facilitators design experiential debriefs around reflection, participant insights, and actionable takeaways. Interactive discussions are designed to draw out parallels between the team's current performance against KPIs and performance in the experiential challenge or simulation. These discussions help the team capture and crystallize the learnings and plan for specific applications for continued development.
Step Four: Post-Experience Consulting Services
GEL can assist intact teams with services that support continued transformation and development of high performance mindsets and best practices. Two to three weeks following any program, GEL shares final observations from the experience, discusses the team’s progress on their action items, and makes recommendations for future development opportunities.
Western Union and American Express Brought Two Unique Challenges to GEL
Highlighted below are two case studies of clients who engaged with GEL to design and deliver custom offsites combining experiential programming with working sessions focused on critical areas such as visioning, design thinking, market positioning, succession planning, reorganizations, and customer service.
WESTERN UNION DIGITAL
Addressing Silos, Cohesiveness, and Trust
Western Union Digital engaged GEL to design a one and a half day offsite with multiple activities and working sessions. By collaborating with the senior vice president who led three separate teams, GEL was able to successfully deliver on Western Union Digital's objectives by using elements of the BoatWorks experience alongside hiking, camping, and consulting sessions.
- Design team-focused experience that has us working together rather than competing
- Build relationships with each other and our department’s executive leader
- Gain clarity and alignment around our goals and establish working agreements to govern how we interact and better support each other
Western Union Digital’s team had an intentionally disengaged leader and distinct silos between departments. Additionally, the team was facing three large and all-too-common interpersonal dysfunctions: lack of trust; lack of accountability for results; and a lack of role clarity. Based on the issue at hand and the outlined goals, GEL recommended getting the team involved weeks before the offsite by having them take a pre-assessment.
The focus on day one was addressing the primary challenges of building trust and team collaboration through sailing. Following the sailing, the adventure continued at a mountainous state park for hiking and overnight camping. GEL provided the team with backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and food, along with a map to their campsite.
The following morning, the team built on their experiences from the previous day, connecting their main takeaways to specific business targets. The session took the team through the process of mapping the steps required to meet the now-clarified objectives. Overlapping roles and misperceptions were addressed live while process pain points requiring modifications were identified.
The final program debrief focused on ensuring alignment, acknowledging the “aha moments” team members experienced, and finalizing actionable takeaways to ensure the team was able to continue the positive momentum generated during the offsite.
AMERICAN EXPRESS Ventures
Post-Merger Team Reset
American Express Ventures (Amex Ventures), an American Express business unit forged through the merger of two similar but geographically dispersed entities, engaged GEL to develop a multi-day offsite for a group of 20 managing directors, investment managers, associates, and analysts. The goal was to solidify the team’s identity, objectives, and processes to support the culture and collaboration required for high-performance teamwork.
- Get clarity on our mission and objectives
- Define the strategies, tactics, processes, and metrics to accomplish the objectives
- Learn each other’s strengths so we can leverage them to operate as one cohesive high performing team
Amex Ventures was struggling to reach their full potential as an effective, collaborative team. Due to the prior structure, the team had disparate strategies and processes that got in the way of achieving their goals and bottom line. They recognized the need to create a shared culture and practices to support their version of high-performance teamwork.
Creating a safe and fun experience when tackling communication and process challenges can’t be overlooked; it’s what creates an environment of trust. This program was designed to kick off with a BoatWorks experience and workshops focused on interpersonal connection and trust development. Forging and solidifying the team’s identity as one, rather than multiple units, was the vital first step in the program. While team members worked individually and in small groups to solve a series of nautical challenges, BoatWorks is a “whole-fleet” rapid exercise with tight metrics and highly visible results. Success for the Amex Ventures team required coordination between five boats which at times were spread out over a half a mile, but at others close enough to touch.
Boat crew make-up was designed to assure that New York and Palo Alto team members were shuffled and evenly dispersed. Completing the intense and highly iterative challenge helped create new bonds well beyond what had been possible via conference calls and boardroom-style meetings. Participants debriefed throughout the sailing day, discussing the skills and attributes each brought to their crew and how these should, or could be, leveraged back in the office.
Following the sailing experience, additional sessions focused on establishing alignment around Amex Ventures' objectives and positioning within the enterprise and the broader VC community. Individuals benefited from their peers' insights and feedback during all aspects of the offsite, leading to key insights and increased trust among the team.