As commonplace as meetings are in the workplace, they’re also a hot-button issue in corporate culture today. Some employees sing the praises of meetings; others feel they’re largely a waste of time. A more moderate stance is that meetings are still necessary in this day and age, but that many organizations could benefit from streamlining their approach.
Savvy leaders are always looking for ways to improve company productivity, employee morale and company culture overall — so it makes perfect sense to constantly evaluate your approach to meetings.
Start from the top down. The largest gatherings many businesses regularly hold are all-hands meetings. These town hall-style sessions include employees from every level, and provide a platform for leadership to communicate directly with the rest of the company.
You might be wondering: Should your company host all-hands meetings? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and challenges associated with these gatherings.
Benefits of Effective All-Hands Meetings.
The biggest advantage all-hands meetings can bring to the table is transparency. Employees tend to appreciate hearing things “from the horse’s mouth” rather than receiving updates secondhand, or in writing. The opportunity for company leaders to get up in front of employees and share clear, honest insights with them is huge — and can help make attendees feel significantly more connected to the organization as a whole.
What constitutes an effective all-hands meeting, exactly? Here are the key elements according to one entrepreneur for Forbes:
Reflection: Use the first quarter of the meeting to reflect on updates, victories, missed opportunities, etc. Acknowledge teams and individuals that contributed to successes. Treat missed opportunities as a learning experience and mention what you’ll do to avoid repeats.
Current & Future Performance: Half the meeting will consist of covering current and future performance, citing metrics and objectives as you go. This portion typically depends on a presentation deck.
Questions and Answers: The final quarter is used to address employee questions and comments. Pro tip: Instead of trying to pass the mic during this portion of the all-hands meeting, try using a plug-in like Poll Everywhere to embed a live poll Q&A slide. This allows attendees to use their mobile devices to submit questions and upvote others’ relevant inquiries so leaders can address them first.
This basic will help you utilize every minute of your next town-hall meeting—covering all the bases while prioritizing employee engagement — if you do decide to hold one.
Challenges Associated with Large Meetings.
Of course, critics have a number of fair points regarding all-hands meetings.
First of all, whenever you’re pulling your entire workforce away from their desks, you are putting a pause on productivity. To justify such a disruption, it’s important to make each session count.
Furthermore, hosting a meeting doesn’t always guarantee employees will enthusiastically engage. Harvard Business Review outlines how employees at one global ecommerce company cited weekly all-hands meetings as a pain point. Why? Well, first of all, many attendees were tuned into their mobile devices and laptops during the meeting, so “those who spoke had to repeat themselves frequently.” This made the meetings longer and more frustrating for everyone involved.
In this case however, outside consultants recommended a no-tech rule during meetings rather than trashing town hall meetings altogether. This illustrates how sometimes the problem isn’t the meetings themselves, but a company’s approach to them.
When you’re evaluating whether or not your company should host an all-hands meeting, focus on the return on investment. What will your organization gain in exchange for the pause in productivity? A focus on employee engagement must be front and center.