It’s January, so you know what that means!! It’s “All-Hands” time! It’s the time of the year when companies bring their employees together to get them excited about the road ahead.
The goal of the “All-Hands” is not to simply “present” information about the company. The goal is to encourage a two-way dialogue so that employees feel connected to the organizational mission, and believe they have a voice in the company direction. If you want employees that are emotionally invested, then you must give them a voice.
Simply put, you don’t want to create an “all-hands” meeting. You want to create an “all-hearts” meeting. You want them connected…not just present.
(Note: Team leaders/Division leaders can also use this format to conduct team meetings, as well as Solopreneurs who work with contractors can use this structure to bring individuals together.)
Here are four steps to conducting a great employee gathering – what I like to call a “Town Hall” meeting, which invites questions and observations from attendees. This gives them a sense of ownership about the meeting structure, and the information that is communicated.
Open the two-way dialogue.
1: Schedule the meeting with enough advance notice that employees do not have to re-schedule other commitments to make the meeting. You want as many people there as possible. Include a message with the meeting invitation that tells employees that their feedback and attendance is important for a successful and productive meeting.
Here is a sample: “Please plan to attend the 1st quarter Town Hall Meeting. Shortly you will receive an invitation to anonymously submit questions or feedback about the company. This is your meeting, and it’s important to create a two-way dialogue about the direction of the company. We need your contributions to move forward. Thank you in advance for your input.”
2: Using an online survey tool, set up an anonymous survey with a brief note of instructions that re-iterates all feedback is anonymous, and poses these questions:
1: What is working well in the company?
2: What is not working well in the company?
3: What are the greatest organizational challenges you see?
4: What are your suggestions for improvement?
5: Are there any examples where we have not kept our word?
6:What or questions or issues do you want us to address in the upcoming Town Hall meeting?
Address the questions & issues brought forward.
3: Compile the questions, and integrate them into the agenda you want to cover for your meeting. It is essential that you incorporate all questions and feedback. Even if you don’t have all of the answers, it’s important to acknowledge that you have heard everyone that spoke up. For questions you can’t immediately answer, or for action items you can’t immediately address, institute a timeline for when you will address them.
4: For any agenda items that require follow-up, communicate a realistic timeline. Then follow through on your promises.
Employees stay committed to companies that encourage dialogue, welcome two-way communication, and follow through with their promises. Many companies tout “communication” and “transparency” as their values. How many live it?
Your Town Hall meeting is the perfect opportunity to show employees you are committed to an open, honest, and transparent culture. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the new year. Can you?
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