Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Avoiding POOR Meeting Attendance

“If you build it, they will come…” This is not exactly all true when planning a meeting. A lot of work goes into producing a successful meeting and the majority of work is definitely in the primary stages of research, design, and planning. When this is done properly, the remaining stages of co-ordinating and evaluating the meeting will bring forth the desired outcome.

Attendance IS the lifeblood of a meeting! Whether the reason for meeting is a training session, sales presentation, corporate retreat, customer/employee incentive programme, or themed event, faulty meeting planning will cause unwanted results, including poor attendance.

People come together in a meeting to share ideas and visions, to make decisions, to be entertained, or to solve problems. As a planned communication encounter between two or more persons for a common purpose, the meeting must appeal to the intended attendees. Attendance is a meeting planning issue and not just an issue for sales and marketing or public relations, which are parts of the meeting planning process.  Attendees want results. They want information. They want the tools and techniques they can use immediately. Attendees will attend meetings that satisfy their needs. All of these concerns play an essential role in the meeting planning process.

The consequences of poor meeting planning can result in premature cancellation, complete cancellation, wasted time, termination of employees, as well as ineffective use of resources. Poor or faulty meeting planning can also have a negative impact on a company’s budget thus affecting other cost factors, not to mention, management embarrassment or discolouring a company’s image. In a poorly attended meeting, money goes down the drain without ever achieving the desired results.

Poor meeting attendance can come from several overlooked attributes of faulty meeting planning. Companies with tighter budgets can get hurt by inadequate meeting planning preparation and poor communication. If a previous meeting was successful, there is no justification or guarantee that when repeated, will produce the same results. Change happens! People’s needs change! Environments change! Meetings need to adequately address current critical issues that apply to those attending. Therefore, the information to be shared with the attendees must have the potential and capability of being applied immediately or be within their areas of work and interests. Producing frequent lower-quality meetings is also a sure-shot indicator for attendees to lose interest and not show up.

Let us look at several ways you can avoid poor meeting attendance.
  • Know the attendees! This cannot be expressed or emphasised enough. This is key to the success of any meeting planning process. To know the group helps in the selection and negotiation of all the necessary ingredients to put the meeting plans together. Knowing the attendees requires research that will provide demographics – the important element and information that must be collected and reviewed carefully.
  • Establish objectives that are specific, measurable, and appealing to the attendees. Failure to meet the primary objective to the meeting means that the meeting has failed.
  • Design programmes that apply to the attendees’ needs and interests. Believe it or not, the decision to attend a meeting is at the sole discretion of the attendees. They are the ones who need to be motivated as they want to know what is in it for them.
  • Select a venue that will contribute to attendees’ presence and participation. The location and type of venue compliment the design of the meeting.
  • Always plan ahead. Do not wait until the last moment to begin preparations. Meeting planning is a serious business that involves strategic decision-making. Meetings should not just be planned, they should be staged as sensory, financial experiences that are designed to evoke the senses and make people attend and be able to take something away from that event.
  • Take a risk and try something different. Each person attending a meeting brings a different level of knowledge and expertise to the programme. Understand that the attendees are also customers who attend meetings with different ideas, values, and expectations.
  • Engage the services of a professional meeting planner. Good partnerships leverage both internal and external resources to achieve common objectives. The ultimate goal is to achieve more with less.

The challenges and trends of today’s economy can be very difficult on any organisation. Organisations need to be creative to stay alive. Organisations need to realise that meetings constitute a substantial portion of their budgets and should take the necessary steps to pay attention to the (real) cost of producing a meeting. So as not to lose money unwisely and to achieve return on investment, a company must take a closer look at the way it conducts meetings.

Meetings are here to stay and attendance is essential to making them successful. Attendees are customers. Pay attention to their needs by producing meetings that are worth their while to attend.

Source: Mrs. Margaret Lawrence - HRMAJ, Western Chapter                                                                   

Organization Development & Effectiveness

Organizational Effectiveness is a concept that demands continuous improvement at all levels in a system. Several methods have been devised and used in this regard all aiming at making the organization more efficient and more competitive. As the rate of activities increase, organizations are likely to become increasingly focused on day to day operational issues thereby becoming less aware of emerging difficulties that will ultimately reduce its effectiveness.  One is also likely to miss the important effects that known problems are likely to have on the rest of the rest of the organization.  Before you know it the organization is in a severe downward spiral.

The point be made is that the organization is a system.  Problems in one part of the system that goes undetected will grow and spread to impact other parts of the organization.  It is important therefore that the problems are detected, analyzed and subjected to carefully planned interventions.  Organization Development (OD) offers an opportunity to do just that.

Organization Development is a “planned organization-wide programme” (Schein) that focuses on aspects of organizational dynamics. It involves activities which the consultant facilities with individuals and groups.

These activities emerge from a diagnostic process that identifies problems, their causes and variables that must be controlled in order to achieve satisfactory solutions.

In the early days a typical definition of OD would emphasize the point that it uses “Behavioural Science” to find solutions to organizational problem. This is because the OD process involves organizational members at all stages, namely a) the “front end” (diagnostic stage), b) the design, development and implementation of strategies, c) mentoring and evaluation and feedback.  Naturally, skill is working with people is of the utmost importance.

There are several models for carrying out an OD exercise. Most are very comprehensive. Yet they can be learned fairly easily and thereby become available for use in your organization.

The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica has launched an “OD Cell” that gives members an opportunity to participate in exploration of:
A)  What is OD                                                           
B)  Its application in Jamaican organization              
C)  Forming network for sharing information and expertise.

You are invited to become an OD enthusiast.

By:  Lloyd Stanley
August 2007

The Value of Team Work

Social Scientists throughout generations have concluded that man is a selfish being, guided mainly by self-interest and the satisfaction of personal needs. Yet he is also defined as a social animal for whom the sense of belongingness is paramount. It is this belongingness need that creates the platform for the development and success of work teams.

Organizations have been trending towards the acceptance of the team concept, as increasingly, managements as well as workers, recognize the value of teamwork and buy into the process of team building.

In his book “The Team Trainer: winning tools and tactics for successful workouts”, William Gorden reminds us that a cake is more than eggs, flour and sugar. It is the combination of the ingredients which make it a cake. This is the idea of synergy - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Similarly, the organization is greater than its separate departments. It is the combined efforts of all the departments and all the people in the departments who work together to achieve common organizational goals. If the emphasis is on collective responsibility, mutual accountability, communication, collaboration in goal attainment and contribution to the organization’s development and success, then that is a team. (William Gorden 1996)

A team has been defined as “a group of two or more individuals who interact with and influence each other. Team members are held together by their interdependence and need for collaboration to achieve common goals.”

Stages of Team Development:
  • FORMING: testing and orientation, a time when members get to know each other and find out what is expected of them.
  • STORMING: individuals take on roles and responsibilities, competition is obvious and interpersonal conflicts are played out.
  • NORMING: There is a sense of cohesion. Roles are established. Consensus forms around objectives. There are common expectations about accomplishment of goals and members interact more efficiently.
  • PERFORMING: Members are more task-oriented. Things shift from establishing and maintaining relationships, to accomplishing objectives. Team members have learnt to coordinate their actions and manage conflicts. In high performance teams, members are highly cooperative, have a high level of trust in each other, are committed to group objectives and identify with the team.
  • DORMING: Periods of inactivity or no-growth are common experiences in the process.
  • ADJOURNING: most work teams eventually end…if several members leave the organization, are reassigned elsewhere, the plant shuts down or if there are lay-offs.

Is your work group really a TEAM? It may be interesting and beneficial to evaluate its degree of TEAMNESS.

  • Management asks for team members’ input
  • Team members have confidence in management
  • Motivation is high
  • Team members have a positive attitude towards the organization and its goals
  • Communication is open and extensive
  • Information flows freely throughout the levels of the organization
  • Decision making is shared
  • Emphasis is on self-control and problem solving
  • Goal setting and performance standards are high but realistic
  • The organization is committed to career development through training and job enlargement
  • There is Unity of Purpose and Collective Responsibility

Well, what is the verdict? Is your work team really a team or is it just a work group?

By: Shona Heron

HRMAJ - Western Chapter
April 2007