Last week I spent nearly 5 days at my companies annual Global Sales and Delivery Conference. (No, I am not above shameless company promotion, but I do not work for SalesLogix either.) I am aware that some people love these get togethers. There is plenty of networking that goes on, you learn the the new strategic direction of the company, enjoy inspirational entertainment and keynote speakers – and get to stay at fancy hotels.
On the flip side, I am also aware that some people absolutely dread these conferences. They already keep in touch with all the associates they want to and the networking seems pointless, they grudgingly applaud the CEO as he/she pronounces the soon to be dead initiatives, can’t stand the cheezy motivational hoorahs and would prefer to be at home.
I have to admit, I am the kind of person who really enjoys these things – but only when they are done right. This year, my company did it right. Here are five things that made this a success:
- The keynote and breakout sessions were relevant. Before the conference the organizers did a great job of finding out what topics we needed and wanted to know more about, what we were struggling with, and what we wanted to do better. They then executed on that information flawlessly. I wanted to attend every breakout session but could only choose 1 per time slot. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my clone to attend the other sessions.
- They allowed for networking time, but not so much you didn’t know what to do with yourself. The first night of the conference was brief and packed with activities you could do with a tight knit group or branch out and meet others. Perfect for the Woo’s and the Wall Flowers. Other than that you had to be aggressive on the 15 minute breaks and before dinner. Those power networkers got a lot done, and those who are less prone to stick their hand out and meet somebody could easily waste time pretending they were checking email.
- The company executives kept themselves brief, engaging, and and on topic. This included their presentations, introductions of others and even the award ceremonies. Their time wasn’t short – but not long winded either. Much of it involved recognizing and involving the lesser known employees who do a lot of the “rolled up sleeves” work as well. It was very tasteful. One of the executives even turned her presentation into a skit of sorts, involving a rag-time like pianist and vocal singers. Lots of fun and very engaging. Most of all, we weren’t drowned in data and easy to forget numbers and information.
- The strategic direction is perfectly aligned to what needed to be done, not some grandiose and unrealistic proposition. Don’t get me wrong, we are pushing the envelope again and challenging ourselves. But what we heard wasn’t surprising, doesn’t demand an overhaul of job roles and responsibilities for the front line, and allows us to truly serve value to our clients at the same time.
- They planned for us to get outside in thefresh air doing non-business activities for renewal. 3-5 days in a hotel is tough. Very little natural light, almost no fresh air and long periods of time sitting in one spot (minus all the stand up applauses that are frequently over used) can be mentally and physically draining. So this year when they bused everyone out to the nearby mountains to do activities of our choice (Fly Fishing, Horseback Riding, ATV, Shopping, Mountain Biking, and others) everyone came back re-invigorated. The timing was perfect and allowed us to be fully engaged for the rest of the conference.
So tell us, what are some major successes and failures you have seen at your company conferences – oh, no name dropping on the failures please.