How strategic is too strategic?

A guest blog from Tom Carrier, in response to this post on industry associations’ non-collaboration on their various core competency projects (a shortened version also was published in this week's MeetingsNet Extra):

How very curious that all of these meeting professional organizations are now concentrating on creating "business skills" for the meetings industry. Yet, of all the competencies mentioned (strategic planning, business development, finance, operations and human resources), negotiations is not one of them.

It's also curious that there is a lot of attention paid to enhancing the strategic skills of meeting managers, yet so very few of the nearly 32,000 meeting planners recognized as such by the Bureau of Labor Statistics can actually influence the management of meetings themselves. They are entry-level or middle managers with responsibilities only to administrate logistics and budgets, not the direction or content of meetings. So how does all of these new programs help them to succeed? I don't know.

Besides, it’s been my experience lately that an increase in management skills for meeting managers doesn't necessarily translate into job security. Too many organizations are cutting back on more senior-level managers to concentrate on hiring more entry-level or middle managers to help save on payroll. It would seem, then, that the more experience you have as a senior meetings manager, the less marketable you become (or at least your options may be severely limited).

All of these fancy programs can't hurt, of course. There is always value in continuing education. But, for too many whose jobs really depend on being more than just managing logistics, more attention must be paid to enhancing the one skill that will make them more essential employees. This one skill will also allow these employees to get and keep more demanding jobs as they move through the ranks of meeting management. The art and science of business negotiations will be the only real calling card that every meeting manager can trade on as they advance in their careers. Everything else should follow that.

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