One of the greatest opportunities for improving the organizational climate is the annual management meeting. Yet such a meeting may fail to take full advantage of this opportunity for several reasons, including the following: The facility is not carefully chosen; the wrong people or not enough of the right people are invited; the sessions are too long or too short; the objectives are poorly defined; there is a lack of participation and involvement; communication is from the top down; too much attention is focused on problem solving and dwelling on past mistakes instead of looking ahead to future opportunities; too much or too little time is spent on recreation; major priorities are not clearly identified because there is no theme to focus on; insufficient time is allowed for planning the meeting; too few people do too little homework; the meeting is not evaluated, so there is little improvement from one year to the next; there is no follow-up to reach those who did not attend.
A management meeting is the president meeting, so he should be heavily involved in the planning, implementation, participation, and follow-up. The following guides are not listed in order of Meeting Room Equipment importance, except in a general way.
Who makes the arrangements: one man or a committee? In a busy organization, there is generally no one of sufficient stature who can devote full-time for two or three months to planning and preparations for such a meeting. Accordingly, a temporary committee of two or three well-regarded staff and line executives should be appointed to take responsibility for the meeting. Generally, the human resources executive should chair the committee since he assumes a major role in its success. Others who might be involved are the corporate planner, an administrative staff vice-president, and a high-ranking line executive. The president should personally appoint these people and meet with them to stress the importance he places in this meeting.
Selecting the site and the participants
The site selection should be based on an estimate of the number who will attend. Depending on location, three to six months advance reservation time is mandated, particularly for a large group with corporate officers, group executives, and key staff personnel, from each of the divisions, the president and his chief manufacturing, marketing, engineering, and financial executives. The personnel director should of course be among the key staff personnel in attendance.
Among the major factors in site selection are the guarantee of sufficient good single rooms for everybody in attendance (to assure this, a personal visit for inspection is a must), quality of food and service, accessibility by public transportation, probable weather conditions, and costs. There are organizations that specialize in helping managers to select appropriate meeting sites; using such an organization is one way to insure adequacy of meeting rooms, equipment, and so on.
The theme sets the tone. Whether in times of adversity or in times of prosperity, the theme is highly important because it sets the mood and attitude of the participants. The theme selected on this particular occasion was intended to deal with a current period of adversity with its mood of austerity: Maintaining profits was extremely difficult, costs were rising while the line was being held on prices, there were fewer people to do more work, sales were down, and morale was suffering in the face of a shrinking bonus.