You know what I am talking about.
All-staff meetings, Town Halls, Team Forums. They have many different names, and their original intent was good.
But, here's where they go wrong...
The CEO or senior leader stands in front of the group, tries to break the ice through a method in which no one responds, goes on to give an update on the business, then asks the question, "do you have any questions?"
And no one responds.
Thirty minutes of diatribe from the leader. Thirty minutes of silence from the audience.
What was originally meant to open the lines of communication has turned into an information dump followed by exacerbated rumors and questions in the hallway afterwards. Instead of being a positive experience, people "feel like" they don't have a voice and the experience breeds resentment.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Here are some ideas to make your next All-staff meeting more interesting, interactive and engaging.
- Ask team members to submit questions prior to the meeting. This engages participants, tells you exactly what they want to hear about, and increases the level of participation and ownership people have in the meetings.
- Remove physical barriers typically found in conference rooms and cafeterias. Put chairs in a u-shape formation, remove tables, have people stand or sit on the floors. Take away the physical barriers that are an obstacle to open communication.
- Communicate what you know and don't know. Most of the pain people experience from change has more to do with the stories they tell themselves than about the change itself. Communicating what you know and don’t know often alleviates the fear around change.
- Invite team members to do short presentations on various personal and professional topics. Give center stage to people who are not in supervisory positions. Again, this elevates engagement, and it gives you an opportunity to see up-and-comers in action.
- Follow-up with action items and ask for additional input to ensure you captured what you thought you heard people say. At the start of the next All-staff, review the status of the action items from the previous month’s meeting to demonstrate your commitment to your people.
- And finally, stop trying to be the invulnerable leader. You might think that's what people expect of you. But, they really want humility, empathy, and someone who's real.
Got other good ideas on how to take the "boring" out of your All-staff meetings? Share them here.