Published on February 27, 2014
Annual General Meetings are Here!! By Stephen Mwangi Co-operator
This is the time all co-operatives that have their financial year as 1st January to 31st December are holding their annual general meetings. Members' expectations of course is tied to interest on deposit and dividends. People are making calls to know what percentages they are getting for the previous financial year. Some are making calls to know who is retiring in the management committee and who are contesting. Most probably nobody is sending their agendas to be considered for discussed at the AGM.
Most co-operatives only meet once in a year whether through the delegates system or whole membership attending the AGMs. Sometimes the agendas are so congested such that all of them are not discussed and some important agendas are postponed till the next AGM!!! That is 12 months or more of delay!!! So how do we get out the most from these meetings as societies or as members??
The societies..... 1. Membership/delegates should be informed earlier as stipulated in the societies' by-laws. All of the agenda clearly stated. AOB (Any Other Business) shouldn't be encouraged always as this ends up consuming more time. Members should be encouraged to present their agendas to the secretary early enough to be considered for discussion in the AGM.
2. Keep time. I have attended many AGMs and keeping time is a big problem. Members and even the board of directors/management committees most times never arrive on time. On average meetings usually start 2 hours later after the stipulated time even 4 hours later is not uncommon!!. This discourages some members who usually arrive early and they are also converted to late comers of AGMs. Also late meetings will lead to all the agendas being not discussed sufficiently and resolutions too will not be of quality or well thought out as the early birds will be tired.
3. Keep to the agendas. I have been to meetings where the chairman loses the control of the agenda and the membership end up discussing other things. This will to lead meeting being prolonged and members exhausted and therefore failure to finish all the agendas or have effective meeting.
4. Let the presentations be brief and to the point. Some people when given time, will bore members to death and it happens that these people are poor in reading body language. Difficult to them to know if members are bored. These people are sometimes not time conscious and most times they are the ones that arrive late for meetings!! It is important that societies' appoint a time-keeper who will notify speakers if they have finished their allocated time.
5. Do not give drinks when the meeting is ongoing. It is better to have a short break rather than you have a presenter on the floor and someone is distributing drinks or food. Membership ends up not listening or their concentration is interfered with because of the movements and noise. Better, provide water before the meeting starts.
6. Use public address system if member numbers exceed 100! Some people are inaudible and they end up talking on the podium with the first and second rows and the rest of membership wonder what the person in front of them is saying!!
7. Switch the phones off or have them in silent mode. I have witnessed several members of the societies an even board members, receiving calls when the meeting is ongoing. That is RUDE!! If the call is important, walk out with minimal noise.
8. It is good to take questions first and then answer them instead of taking one question and answering that one question before going to the next question. This saves time.
9. The societies' minutes should capture all the relevant issues being said and proposers and seconders of those issues. It will be easier to pick up from where the societies left from the previous meetings.
The membership/delegates........ 1. Come with a pen and a paper and note all the points you thing are important or questions you will need clarification on. 2.Be patient and let there be order in asking questions. If your question has been asked, do not ask the same thing again.
3. Learn to arrive early as stipulated in the notice convening the meeting. It is good to be time keepers by reminding the management/board/members/delegates if they are taking too long to start or spending too much time on a topic or a point.
4. Be constructive. Remember the supreme authority is the AGM. Whatever is discussed or passed in these meetings as resolutions are what will determine the future of the co-operative society and also the ramifications are far much greater and do not stop at you. So be helpful.
5. Restrict your movements. Some are particularly annoying and cannot be in a meeting for more than ten minutes continuously. They usually keep dragging everybody else on same issues that have been asked or discussed time and again.
Probably there are more points that I have missed, but hope that the message has been driven home here....cheers!!
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