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Forget Attendees—How Do You Engage Colleagues When It Comes to Meeting Planning?

Forget Attendees—How Do You Engage Colleagues When It Comes to Meeting Planning?

In every session I've ever been to on strategic meetings management, someone always raises the question of how to get people to buy into the idea. Not necessarily compliance (if you're in a regulated industry) or procurement or finance, but more the people who like planning events themselves and don't want to give it up.

Strategic meetings management consultant Shimon Avish has come up with a really interesting idea on what causes otherwise perfectly reasonable people to turn into stubborn mules when it comes to SMMP adoption and, more to the point, a way to turn them into, if not evangelists, then at least relatively happy adopters.

And yes, while I'm as heartily sick of the word "engagement" as you probably are, that's what it comes down to. Most SMMPs ask people to disengage from something they really, really like to do, something that gives them a bit of joy and/or a bit of control over the event. But that also is taking away their reason to care about working on it, at least somewhat.

Citing a survey conducted by Christa Degnan Manning, Senior Vice President, Global Workforce and Talent Research at HfS Research, which found that a ridiculously high number of people—a third of the 5,000 surveyed—are only actively engaged in their work half the time they're working, mostly because of a lack of flexibility and autonomy. Of course, productivity suffers. Shimon ponders:

Strategic meetings management programs are all about control in order to drive savings and reduce the risks associated with corporate meetings and events.  But employees don’t want more control – they want more flexibility and autonomy.  After all, one of the explanations we often hear for why SMM programs are not being adopted is employee resistance.

So why not hand the reins over for the least risky tasks that people really like to do, while holding onto control over the things that can "result in brand damage, attendee safety and security concerns, and financial and legal risks"? He poses what I think is a pretty neat potential solution to a stubborn problem—check it out for yourself, and let me (and him) know if you think something like this would fly in your organization.

Shimon is also conducting a quick, six-minute state-of-the-SMMP survey that could provide an interesting look at where we're at with it at this point in time.

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