Through Guy’s Eyes: Corporate workshops – it’s all about the sandwiches!

Want to get your staff on board with a new idea, or encourage a whole new way forward? Host a workshop! That way, you’ll get to spend a fortune on a venue, flights for the out-of-towners, hotels and facilitators. Your people will get to spend an entire day (or more) out of the office, stressing about deadlines – but, if truth be known, they’ll mostly be thinking about the sandwiches at the next tea break.

Corporate Workshops Don’t Work - they become all about which sandwiches are served

If it sounds like I don’t think very much of workshops, that’s because I don’t. I think they represent the worst kind of ‘tickbox fever’, making you feel positive because you’ve taken action – although you’re not actually going to get much long-term gain.

That’s because while the atmosphere in a workshop might be electric at times, it simply doesn’t last. True, your employees – especially the more vocal ones – might be fired up after they’ve rah-rah’ed along with the facilitator, played some games with colleagues they don’t usually chat with (all in the name of team building, of course) and left on a feel-good high. But, trust me, by tomorrow, they will have forgotten 50% of what was discussed at the workshop. And within a month, 99% of whatever learning or inspiration was discussed will have completely fizzled out.

So, yes, there might be some enlightenment – but it really is for the here and now, and – of course – the sandwiches. And while some employees might genuinely enjoy the experience, guaranteed there will be others who resent the time out the office when there is work to be done, or who sneer at the kind of pseudo camaraderie that results from a quick-fix attempt at fostering some desired result.

Sorry, but if you really want to make a lasting difference, you’ll have to do something fundamentally different. A workshop is all very well if you’re teaching people say, how to ice cupcakes beautifully – but if it’s a transformed organisation you’re after, it takes more than a few hours at a pretty location.

Bon appétit

    Guy Martin is the founder & Managing Director of Blueprints: assisting CEOs to drive growth by increasing the alignment of their people to business goals by 50% within an 18 month period.