Have you ever wondered why your department manager arranges to have your team meetings in the corner meeting room, you bring your own coffee, and he orders a pizza lunch? While meanwhile down the hall Manager B, takes her team to a five-star hotel, with a hot breakfast, a buffet lunch and ends the meeting with a cocktail at 5 pm.
Is it because one department has a bigger budget than the other? Perhaps. Is it because the message will be better received in a five-star hotel? Perhaps. Is it because Manager B is nicer than Manager A? It could be one or all of these reasons, none of which may represent the corporate culture or senior management’s preference as to how meeting dollars are spent.
The bottom line is it could be as simple as there are no guidelines about how money is spent when it comes to meetings. Most companies have a corporate travel policy. Some of these travel policies may include a paragraph or two about meetings, but they often fail to dive deep enough to protect the company from a misuse of funds or how to handle emergency situations when a group of people are involved. If the money you spend on meetings and the safety of your meeting attendees is important to your company, then it’s necessary to have a stand-alone corporate meetings policy.
Without a meetings policy what happens? The amount spent is likely determined by personal preferences of the meeting host as noted above. Manager A is probably a person who manages money tightly on a personal level and this is reflected into his business, leaving his staff feeling lesser than their colleagues down the hall. Manager B may be an individual who will only settle for the best of the best. Nice for her, but is this the best use of company funds and how your company wants to be perceived by clients or investors?
Somewhere in the middle is the balance. This balance can be achieved with a corporate meetings policy. This may be a scary thought for those responsible for pulling people together. The agenda content is enough to manage, and now you fear procurement will always be looking over your shoulder. In fact with a well written policy, the net effect is the exact opposite. The corporate meetings policies I’ve had the pleasure to assist with did not begin with a procurement mandate handed down from above. There was a collaborative effort with input and buy-in across the organization. When assembling your meetings policy committee, bring in everyone with a stake in the outcome i.e. senior management, legal, frequent meeting hosts such as sales, training and development and yes, procurement should definitely be at the table as one part of the overall discussion.
Together these areas will create a comprehensive policy which defines exactly what a meeting is. There may be different levels of meetings resulting in different approval processes. The policy could and should request that alternative meeting formats be considered i.e. webinars, hybrid meetings. The list goes on about what could be included in the policy, such as any tax implications, risk management and preparedness, the company’s social responsibilities and a code of conduct for persons in your company responsible for meeting planning.
If you create a well written meetings policy, the outcome will be consistency throughout your organization, bottom line savings and peace of mind that most unforeseen circumstances that can happen at a meeting have been addressed.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing now!”