Would your flight department team benefit from improved communication with your parent company? Is your senior staff managing rather than leading? Has your team lost its sense of purpose?
If your answers are a resounding "YES!," then your team will absolutely benefit from creating a set of vision, mission and values.
And this can easily be done by organizing an offsite planning meeting with your key stakeholders—the members of your flight department.
Not only will an offsite get your employees aligned with the big picture, it will help them learn to speak the language of business.
In this four-part blog series, Gray Stone Advisors will first share how to organize an offsite planning meeting.
Ok. So first thing's first. You'll need to start with the most important piece: the planning process.
After all, the outcome of the offsite can be a significant investment in your organization's future. Or, a significant failure.
5 Steps to a Successful Offsite Planning Meeting
1. Plan your Escape
It's absolutely possible to complete a first draft of your vision, mission and value statements in a matter of a few hours, but we recommending getting away from the office.
Yes, taking the team away from their busy travel and work schedules is no small feat, but it's critical to set the stage for success.
Leave the planes, the passengers, the schedules, the smartphones, and the hangar behind. Find a place where you can really get down to business without distraction.
The key is to find a location that will allow your team to get comfortable and maintain focus. But don't get too far off the beaten path.
You'll also want access to a laptop, projector, screen, self-stick easel pads, markers, and a large table with comfortable chairs.
What you'll end up seeing by the end of the day's session is that every inch of the room's walls are covered with great ideas regarding your future direction.
TIP: Consider booking a conference room at your parent company's headquarters (if it's not too far from the flight operation). This may be a rare opportunity for some team members to visit HQ. It might also help them feel a stronger connection to a bigger purpose, and give them a much-needed break from their often-isolated world at the airport.
2. Block Calendars
How big is your flight department? If it's less than a dozen people, invite the entire team to participate.
But if it's larger (say 20-30 people) limit it to the members of your leadership team to whom the functional groups in your organization report— from maintenance and administration to the flight deck and scheduling.
Once your leaders get back to the hangar, they'll be responsible for getting input on the draft of the mission, vision and values with their direct reports. Everyone needs to feel a part of the process.
3. Use an Outside Facilitator
At Gray Stone Advisors, we've been on both sides of the conference room table—as the facilitator/leader and as the participant.
And, what we've learned is that it's very hard to be good at both roles.
These planning sessions are always more successful when led by an experienced facilitator who can:
Make the connection.
It's important for the flight department director to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with all participants in this process, which is hard to do if he or she is also trying to facilitate. By bringing in an impartial, outside facilitator, this gives them equal footing with the team. And, they get to actively participate.
TIP: Inviting someone from outside your daily operations (who is experienced in business aviation) may help you uncover issues you didn't know existed.
Create an open environment of thought.
When creating your vision, mission and values, anything goes! An experienced facilitator must create a space for everyone to share freely. We always tell our session attendees right up front that there are no wrong answers. It's best to get all of the ideas out. We set the stage so the whole experience goes smoothly. There are no bad ideas, no judgments, and no criticism.
TIP: You might want to consider inviting your aviation reporting executive to give a "pep talk" to the group at the beginning of the day to show their support. And, if schedules permit, he or she can come back at the end of the session to hear a report-out from the team.
Set some rules for brainstorming.
Setting clearly defined ground rules ensures you'll be able to follow a process so that the results will follow. When brainstorming, creativity is key. That's why we need to focus on the end result. Otherwise, the meeting breaks down.
TIP: Ask everyone around the table to provide input on each topic. If a team member expresses criticism of the idea of another, they may be restricted to participate further. It might sound harsh, but it's important to get ideas out and not stifle the process (or try to "solve" anything just yet). There's too much at stake.
4. Let there be lunch!
Providing healthy, nutritious food is important. Don't forget to include catering in your plans so that the team doesn't get restless.
TIP: Send out menus or special food requests at least one week before. After all, you don't want participants leaving in search of a soda or coffee refill. You want them to keep them engaged and focus.
5. Follow through
One of the toughest parts about conducting a successful offsite is maintaining the momentum after everyone heads back to the flight department. The key to follow-through is to leave with well-defined action steps and get the necessary buy-in from your participants.
TIP: Since the purpose of this retreat is for the team to write the first draft of the new vision, mission and values statements, considering bringing in note cards with your company's logo. At the end, each team member can write down the draft statements on the cards and have a visual reminder as a takeaway.
Organizing a well-delivered offsite planning meeting will lead to a much more positive experience for all stakeholders within the flight department. And the great news is that it doesn't have to cost a fortune to host or attend.
By implementing these five simple steps, you'll be on your way to creating a successful vision, mission and values statement.
Next: 7 ways to create an inspiring vision statement that your team will rally around
Do your vision, mission and value statements need some work?
If so, your team might benefit from an offsite planning meeting called The Way Forward™. This is a 2-day offsite, facilitated by the impartial aviation experts at GSA.
If you're interested, please get in touch with us for a no-obligation discussion.