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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 7, 2017, Friday, April 7, 2017





Increased participation and engaged meeting participants may be as simple as tweaking the design of your event. 


Even if your target audience has not changed, the people representing that audience have. How might you better serve your current audience? 


Tip #1

People use time differently today. Have you kept up with the changes?

  • Ensure your arrival/departure pattern is still the best fit for your current potential participants.
  • How long is your meeting? How many overnights are required? Would making it shorter or longer serve participants better? 

Tip #2

Design your agenda so attendees have time to create their own experiences.

  • Plan informal time purposefully. This is when serendipitous encounters are more likely to occur and where memorable experiences are created.
  • Consider longer breaks, shorter sessions, ending earlier and/or starting later in the day.
  • Plan unscripted receptions and meals—let them simply eat and talk.

Tip #3

Make it hybrid; it will increase participation, not decrease it.

  • Before you do anything, clearly define your objectives for adding a virtual aspect to your meeting.
  • Plan your strategy based on your objectives and prepare for it. 
  • There is a lot to gain, but also a lot to consider going forward. Find links to more information in Want More? below.


One Awesome Idea

Condense your trade show into one high-impact event.

What if your trade show opened and closed on the same evening? I implemented this successfully for a 500-delegate /40-booth convention and trade show.


Schedule it for several hours, maybe 5:00–9:00 pm, on your opening day. This is your welcome event, which I call the kiss & hug event, creating the first opportunity for engagement and connections.


Provide plenty of food and beverage so they don’t want to leave to eat dinner. Serve the area’s specialty dishes (bite-sized), plus local beer and wine. Serve appetizers the first 30 minutes, the entrées the next 60 minutes and lots of desserts until close. Scatter service stations throughout the exhibit hall to create your next source of engagement—the natural connection over eating.


The third connection actually comes the next morning after the show is moved out and rounds are set in their place. Breakfast with exhibitors allows small-group conversations with participants who sit with one exhibitor who is hosting a table identified with a simple table tent.


This model works well with smaller groups that can visit all of the booths in a short time. It is enhanced if the exhibitors, as part of their booth fees, are full convention registrants and stay for the remainder of the event to continue informal networking.


Want More?

Planning hybrid events:

These are older articles, but the content is still valuable:


Making changes:

This is a case study of an association doing more than just tweaking. Click here for Reinventing Its Outdated Education Model, PCMA Convene, August 12, 2015 


Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  meeting planners  succession planning 

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Tips to Identify, Engage and Retain High Potential Employees

Posted By Erin Waterfall, Account Executive, Halogen Software, Friday, October 23, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tips to Identify, Engage and Retain High Potential Employees
By: Erin Waterfall, Account Executive, Halogen Software

You may have heard of The Peter Principle – a management concept from the 1970s that suggests organizations select a candidate for a promotion based on their performance in their current role rather than what’s required of them in their intended future role. The concept satirically suggests employees are promoted until they reach their “level of incompetence.” And there they remain, wreaking havoc on everyone below them and, ultimately, on the organization as a whole.

The concept still has some relevance today. After all, there are many risks for organizations that don’t invest in a rigorous leadership development and succession planning strategy. Despite this realization, the vast majority of organizations today have yet to implement a strategy that addresses talent needs for the future. CEB research indicates that 46 percent of employers lack a systematic process for identifying high potentials and 64 percent of high potentials are dissatisfied with their development experiences.

Without a proper system in place that identifies, engages, and retains high potentials, they will leave. Or, worse, organizations might promote the wrong people – individuals who are popular or doing well at their current job, but who might not have the interest or willingness to be a leader. 

A talent management strategy that properly identifies and develops your organization’s high potentials will not only build the leadership competencies of those individuals, it will also build organizational bench strength in critical business areas so you have talent at your disposal when a critical vacancy occurs.

How to identify and care for your high potentials

Here are some things to consider when implementing a process for identifying, engaging, retaining and deploying your high potentials.

·         Identify high potentials: There are many tools available to help leaders assess employees based on objective examples of actual behavior and outcomes, demonstrated consistently over time.  Consider the employee’s performance – both the results they achieve and how they achieve them. Even more importantly, consider their potential – their ability to progress to future roles of increased responsibility, including leading larger groups of people and maximizing their success. 

Assessing potential is more subjective than assessing past performance. Some clues to potential lie in evaluating an employee’s level of aspiration, ability, and engagement,
three key characteristics identified by CEB as most commonly shared in high potential employees. To this end, identify the potential job level the individual is likely capable of attaining, given the appropriate development.

·         Let high potentials know you care for them: Leaders should get to know their high potential employees, their career aspirations, what is important to them and what motivates them. Just showing this level of interest will go a long way toward engaging and retaining them. But, don’t stop there. High performers want to see some action that proves your organization’s culture doesn’t treat and reward all employees equally.

Although compensation and rewards are powerful motivators, more critical is a targeted development plan to help high potential employees achieve their potential. Work with high potentials to create a development plan that’s designed to help them acquire the competencies needed for a promotion. These can include internal and external training, mentorships, project team leadership and stretch assignments. Consider lateral moves where candidates will gain skills and experience on their way to a promotion. Finally, provide them with ongoing coaching and feedback and increasing levels of self-direction and responsibility.

Taking the next step with high potentials and succession planning

Identifying and developing high potential employees is only half of the solution to the Peter Principle.  The other half is deploying them into business critical positions where they will thrive and use their strengths to benefit the organization as a whole. Once you have identified your high potentials, here are three steps your organization can take to better manage that talent as part of a succession planning strategy.

·         Identify business critical positions: In addition to senior leadership positions, business critical roles might also include hard-to-fill specialty positions or those where your organization cannot afford to have a vacancy. Additionally, consider the competencies and roles that the organization will need to achieve the future it visualizes.

·         Identify success factors for business critical positions: Identify the competencies – knowledge, skills, experience and character traits – that candidates will need in order to succeed in those positions. Some of these competencies will be distinct to the particular position, but some will be generic leadership skills. This will set the foundation for the competencies that you need to find or develop within your talent pool. 

·         Populate talent pools: Rather than grooming high potential candidates for specific future positions, consider developing them in groups called talent pools. You may choose to establish several different talent pools focused on acquiring the competencies you identified for the business critical positions within your organization or a single high potential leadership pool. It is important to treat talent pools in a fluid rather than static manner. In other words, an employee’s performance and potential can change over time, so conduct regular talent bench reviews of the entire organization to keep current and ensure no one is missed.

Set up future success today

Succession planning and high potential development takes focused time and effort and, to be successful, is a responsibility that must be shared by HR and all senior leaders of the organization.  Commitment to effective leadership development will pay off not only in avoiding the Peter Principle, but in a positive impact on the engagement, development and performance of the entire organization.

Author Bio

Erin Waterfall is an Account Executive at Halogen Software.  In her role, Erin helps HR departments improve their talent management processes to develop, manage, and increase employee engagement to achieve measurable business results.

Halogen Software offers organically built cloud-based talent management solutions that reinforces and drives better business results across all talent programs – whether that is performance management, learning and development, succession and leadership, compensation, and recruiting and onboarding. With more than 2,100 customers worldwide, Halogen Software has been recognized as a market leader by major business analysts and has garnered the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry.


Tags:  human resources  recruiting  retaining  succession planning 

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