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Management Resource Library

Annual Management Conference

Does it seem like you are constantly putting out fires at your regular meetings and accomplishing relatively little constructive analysis, planning or goal setting? If so, consider the benefits of an annual Management Conference devoted entirely to those topics that never seem to get adequate coverage at meetings during the year, such as the direction, goals and philosophy of your organization. The benefits of such a conference (both organizational and personal) may surprise you. Since such conferences are costly in time and dollars, great thought should go into them to get the greatest value.

Some Considerations – Do’s and Don’ts

Do’s:

  • Do hold the conference at a location and setting remote from your business. A cabin in the woods, or a lodge, in the mountains are some suggestions. The intent is to remove everyone from the environmental atmosphere of the daily routine.
  • Do prepare in advance a carefully thought-out agenda for the conference. This will assist you in giving adequate coverage to the various areas of concern and provide a suitable control mechanism for the conference.
  • Do assign responsibility for the agenda areas to the various participants. Let then individually screen the subject areas first so that the conference can direct full attention to the “real meat” of the topics.
  • Do have written outlines of each program prepared to be taken away by participants for future reference.
  • Do conduct the conference in an informal atmosphere. Both dress and conference structure should allow the participants comfort and relaxation. Remember that sessions can sometimes be long and demanding and the informal (non-stuffy) setting can keep the discussion moving and conducive to creative thinking.
  • Do consider values of technical sessions and recreational periods relative to the goals of the conference.
  • Do keep the number of conference participants at a realistic figure. Too few may not provide for a stimulating conference, while too many may result in an unwieldy and frustrating session.
  • Do integrate the policies and goals deriving from the conference (after carefully assessing their relative priority and developing an implementation schedule) into the operations of the firm. The conference should result in a more definitive direction for future operations and improve communicative channels in the firm.
  • Do establish a feedback mechanism for periodically assessing the progress made toward implementing the goals derived from the conference.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t approach the conference with the mentality that it is just another meeting. A large degree of the success of the conference will depend upon the preplanning and mental attitude of the individual participants.
  • Don’t let agenda rigidity destroy the conference. Provide and anticipate enough flexibility in the agenda to allow for discussion of important unscheduled topics. As the conference progresses, if unforeseen subjects arise, the conferees must assess their priority against the scheduled agenda.
  • Don’t overlook the potential benefits to be derived from the accentuated interpersonal contact of the conference participants. The increased sensitivity to the problems of the “other guy” can do much to strengthen and enhance the organizational climate.
  • Don’t schedule the conference at the busiest time of the year. The timing of the conference can do much to influence its results, so give its selection the consideration it deserves.