30 October 2005

Mobilizing the Retreat Team

Now our move for O1 was to get the team together in a room and explain the process that will take place up until the actual retreat. This is not so easy as it sounds. Organization Development in this fashion is virtually unknown here in the U.A.E. and people are rightly afraid of this whole new idea of going away together as a team to make plans that will change the company forever.

So we had to bring them in carefully in a private email where the idea was gently introduced. These team members have issues with being open in front of their bosses, and so there is a dire need for trust within all corners of the company. Here is part of that email we sent them:

"Dear O1 team,

Hope this email finds you well. Please relax with your cup of tea while reading this..

As you might be aware, the MDs of O1 would like to undertake an initiative to make our company better in every way for you as well as for our team as a whole. We would like to help you become a great organization where business processes will smooth out, individual roles and responsibilities will be clarified, and your viewpoints will have a bearing on how you relate to each other as a team, and many more issues will be addressed. I know it sounds like big talk, but we intend to this with careful planning and specific actions. We need all your support so that we can make a brave attempt at transforming this company.

In order to achieve our goals together, we are organizing an offsite retreat this December. You have been chosen to attend this retreat because we want your input into building a great environment to work in. This retreat will be specifically designed to address the challenges we face. We are not just going to sit down and listen to a ‘management expert’ talk. We plan to make dramatic change in practical ways at this retreat which will last 2.5 days. We will not change in 3 days, but we will begin the change process.

Mr. Roland Sullivan has 40 years of experience in helping companies be their best. He and I will be helping you achieve our goals. There is a lot of work to be done before the actual retreat happens. It is very important for you to trust this process and get introduced to Mr. Sullivan soon. The process will be for him to sit with each of you individually for a chat to get to know you, and also with all of us as a group so we can ask questions about this whole concept in front of everyone. I hope you understand the importance of an outside person. He will be objective, completely confidential with whatever you tell him, and there will be no favoritism/bias.

Please reply to this email so I know you have received it, and ask me any questions regarding this whole plan.This email has a cc to him, so if any of you want to talk to him via email first to get comfortable, please do so!

Looking forward to all your responses soon.

With regards,

Ms. Mubeena Mohd"

Depending on the nature of the responses, we would get a preliminary idea about how interested, fearful, or excited the team is overall. Scheduling the interviews shouldn't be that hard and we could probably have them for 80 minutes each and that way get the whole team done by 2 days max.

The tricky part is for us the consultants to generate questions to ask the team members during their individual chats. Gauging reactions from the email would also be tricky. But we're determined to bring change.


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