Maximizing Opportunities & Fostering Collaboration

by  Will Lukang  |  Team Dynamics
Maximizing Opportunities & Fostering Collaboration

At a recent mass, I was listening to the homily that talked about Jesus taking his twelve disciples to a place to spend time with them.

When Jesus asked them who had any questions, no one asked because they didn’t want to be looked at as inadequate, as each one of them thought that he should be number one in Jesus’s eye.

As I reflected on this statement, it dawned on me that it is akin to management offsite meetings, where the head of the organization will take their senior leaders to strategize and plan the upcoming year.

This is also an opportunity for their constituents to spend more time with the leader and get to know the leader.

As I reflected on the offsite concept, I found the resemblance intriguing in that frequently the direct reports will look to the offsite as an opportunity to have more face time and impress the leader. Invariably there will be internal competition among the direct reports as to who is the best and who will be next, and so on and so forth. This would result in a bit of a rat race, as no one wants to be left behind or, worse yet, miss out.

Behind the scenes, a true leader serves everyone. Therefore they do not care who gets the most exposure and attention. But is that assumption correct, in that the lack of face time will affect someone’s overall opportunity? My opinion is that it does not directly impact one’s opportunity, because each offsite is based on a specific theme. Therefore the leader will aim to get everyone involved to accomplish the overall objective.

An offsite is a way for management to focus on key topics and get things accomplished in a timely manner. The more collaboration there is the better for the team. Everyone will be given the opportunity to participate and take the lead on certain topics. Here are some suggestions on maximizing your opportunity and fostering collaboration:

  • Volunteer – Volunteer on topics that you’re passionate about. This way you can contribute and be an active participant. Own it, don’t just share a few thoughts here and there.
  • Ask Questions – At times participants don’t want to ask questions because they don’t want to be looked at as someone who is incompetent, but the truth is without questions being asked, you cannot explore other avenues or challenge recommendations. At times, a simple question of, “Why are we doing it?” can elicit other questions on the merits and value of the work we are doing.
  • Challenge The Status Quo – Challenge group thinking and ask yourself the true value of what you’re trying to accomplish. For yourself, ask the tough questions and make everyone reconsider their thoughts.
  • Encourage Others To Participate – Paraphrasing other people is a way to validate your understanding and show people you are listening. People want to work with people who listen to them.
  • Don’t Talk To Fill The Space – The last thing you need to do is talk for the sake of talking. Please don’t do that. It wastes time and people will get annoyed at you.
  • Be A Mediator – When no one wants to play ball or cooperate, be the voice of reason and mediate for both parties to come to common ground. It takes a selfless person to not think of themselves ahead of everyone else.

With all the breakout activities the team will be participating in, the leader will have the chance of evaluating their people. It is through their actions that they will be evaluated. There is a saying that talk is cheap. That is true: you want to be noticed, participate, and make it happen.

The true value is showing what you know and how you work with everyone. Don’t compare yourself to your peers and focus on the value you bring to the table. In the end, your leader will recognize your contribution based on the result, not on your words.

Have you been a part of a management offsite which made a difference?
Photo Credit: Fotolia puckillustrations

About The Author

Articles By will-lukang
A dynamic, multi-faceted Information Technology Leader who demonstrates expertise in translating business needs into technology solutions that meet business objectives while developing strategies to optimize processes that improve efficiency and reduce costs. A certified coach, speaker and training from John Maxwell Team. A co-author of The Character-Based Leader.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Anne Louise Bannon  |  15 Oct 2015  |  Reply

This is an interesting post. However, when I think of the sort of gatherings I’ve been involved in, it has always seemed like politics and group think ruled the day. If you were in, your suggestions were hear. If you weren’t, forget it. And don’t even think about suggesting anything even near the edge of the box. Needless to say, I’m no longer with those groups, but it does make it hard to be seen and evaluated fairly.

Will Lukang  |  15 Oct 2015  |  Reply

Hi Anne,

I understand what you mean. However it is better to speak your mind, because sometimes you can start a conversation that otherwise would not happen. Often people are waiting to ask the question and they would lament that someone beat them to asking the same question. If you don’t ask or suggest, you’ll never know the opportunity it will create. Thank you for your comment. Feel free to share my post.

John Smith  |  17 Oct 2015  |  Reply

Hi, Will – very interesting post.

I have two thoughts:

1) I enjoyed and agree with your points, but believe that ” Encourage Others To Participate” is especially important, particularly if you find yourself in a competitive and guarded environment, as so often seems to happen.

When you actively seek to engage and include others, as a trained facilitator or group counselor will do, you are breaking down the silos and encouraging folks to see you and others as collaborators, rather than competition.

This becomes a real strength when carried back to the workplace and shared with others.

2) You asked about experiences with offsite management events. I used to regularly take my staff off either into the woods or, at least, to a ROPES course environment for a day, several times a year. These experiential-based and outdoor activities were always beneficial in breaking down barriers, increasing team connectiveness, and helping me understand those who I worked with at a deeper level. You find out quickly who are the risk-takers, the cheerleaders, the thoughtful problem-solvers, and the isolators.

We usually were dealing with “made-up” scenarios, so the debriefing after each exercise was very important, especially when we had to grapple with the question “How does what we are learning here relate to what we do back at work?”.

Thanks for a thoughtful and useful post.


Will Lukang  |  25 Oct 2015  |  Reply

Hi John,

Thank you for commenting on my post. I appreciate you sharing the ROPES course environment. It is important to break down barriers and increase connectiveness especially when we are task to do more with less.


Will Lukang

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