Some members of my senior management team told me in early July that it was time for our annual company meeting and that we needed to plan for it.
They reminded me of the importance of the meeting and how we needed to make sure the day was filled with recognition, education, communication and motivation.
As we started planning, I thought about what a long way we have come with these meetings. In the past, there were times I dreaded these meetings, and I am sure our people did, too.
We used to do them just to do them. They were often too long, lacked a clear focus and strayed from our objectives. Through experience, we have put a much greater value on the meetings than we did in the past. This is especially important, because there is a direct expense related to having them.
In the past, it was hard, at times, to gear up for this yearly event. At one meeting, which took place during a challenging time for the company, one of our employees asked in front of the entire work force, "Don't you have anything good to say this year on how the company is doing?"
I remember I was so burdened with difficulties in a number of our expansion markets that I stood there with a blank stare on my face and nothing to say. It took the next several months to pick up the morale in the company, and I was scolded to never do that again.
I was told if I were upset, I should get up there and fake it, because it wasn't fair to our people, who came in once a year from all our offices, to get that type of response. I was further told I needed to look as if I am always in control.
I thought to myself for a short moment, "Maybe this is the person that should be running the company." It was a valuable lesson in management.
We have come a long way from those days. This year, we decided to go all out with our company meeting. This was quite easy for several reasons. First and foremost, this is the best year we have ever had after the first six months.
Our employees have won numerous awards from several professional organizations. We have created several events, that have been wildly successful, that have opened up sponsorship opportunities for area companies. With these and many other victories to celebrate, our meeting was a great success.
Here are four steps to ensure a great meeting.
1. Recognition. The day was filled with recognition for our employees. We have had outstanding years in the past, but sometimes didn't recognize the people who deserved it the most.
2. Education. We had all of the department heads, as well as the market managers, give updates on how each area was doing as a way of getting people involved. We strongly believe in benchmarking as a means of measuring our progress in every department.
3. Communication. We had a guest speaker who spoke on communication and team building. This proved to be a very beneficial exercise.
4. Motivation. This was built into the schedule from morning until the end of the day. We started with a great continental breakfast and a warm welcome. We kept the meeting moving quickly with a lot of involvement. Our goal was to keep people from getting bored and keep them involved throughout the day.
We received more feedback than we ever had in the past, which shows us we acheieved our goals. People didn't want to leave. We decided instead of overwhelming them with information, we would give them just enough so they couldn't wait to come back. Fred Koury (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president and CEO of SBN.