Making the Most of Your Corporate Meetings
It’s a staple of the business world: The yearly—or sometimes a little more frequently—gathering of all employees or a certain group. It involves flying employees into a specific location, hotel nights, dinners, booking conference rooms and other venues.
In other words, it’s time consuming and expensive, and employees are pulled away from clients and daily work. So as a business manager or owner you had better make it productive. However, many times these types of events are riddled with waste in terms of money and productivity. And, when it’s all said and done, nothing is really accomplished and everyone involved has to play catch-up because they were out of the office for a period of time and their email box is stuffed.
Solution providers, or any business today for that matter, cannot afford to hold meetings this way anymore. Time is precious, resources are tight and people value their time.
That said, annual or bi-annual face-to-face meetings that bring together certain company stakeholders are important and will be productive if done for the right reasons. Gathering people together just for the sake of having a meeting is not a good enough reason. The following criteria should be considered and incorporated into these types of events to help ensure their success:
Connecting employees: In today’s world, it is not uncommon that people who work together daily never officially actually meet. With all the communications and data sharing technology available remote office, home-based and employees at corporate headquarters sometimes will never actually sit down face to face. That has become acceptable.
Having a corporate or division-wide meeting gives employees the opportunity to meet one another and get to know each other a bit better. Putting a face to a name isn’t essential to running a business today but it does create a stronger bond among people. Stronger bonds result in more productivity in the long run. If you like the people you work with, you will work better with them.
Sharing the company vision: Creating better working relationships cannot be the only reason for having a big meeting—there needs to be more than that. If your company has recently gone through major changes or is shifting its strategy, it is important to communicate that on a personal level if possible.
Most employees get their company-related news through massive conference calls or company-wide emails. As a result, those outside of corporate headquarters often are left with more questions than answers. Business leaders need to utilize these meetings to reiterate the organization’s mission and communicate the role of each employee. They should leverage these meetings to bring the uber company strategy down to the individual level. That way, when employees go back to their offices they feel not only more connected but are also more accountable.
Incorporating training: All too often during the duration of these types of gatherings, most employees are talked “at.” They are presented with corporate updates, strategies and performance. These are all important but while everyone is together, the time should be used to hear from them and evaluate their current skill sets. Incorporating a training curriculum into these events will result in a more highly trained workforce. Workshops, mock sales calls, role playing should all be part of the curriculum. So when the event is over, employees are better skilled to do their jobs, or have learned new skills to advance their careers.
Allowing downtime: Corporate events are usually jam-packed with activities. From breakfast to dinner, employees are being corralled. Then they return back to their hotel and feel compelled to catch up on email because although they are out of the office, the work doesn’t stop. Even doing this, by the time the meetings are over they still are usually behind.
During the course of preparing the agenda, allow time for actual work and for catching up. This not only gives those gathered the opportunity to digest everything presented to them but also alleviates the fear of coming back to a pile of work. They will be more focused during the meeting if they are not worried about their daily workload.
As a business owner or manager, if you are going to take the time and spend the money to bring your staff together, make the most of it and avoid the pitfalls from past events.