Communication becomes more difficult when a company grows. Discussing things with your team one-on-one when it is more than 10 people is inefficient and exhausting. In such cases you rely on company-wide, all-hands meetings, which makes it easier to focus your entire team on company goals and current activities (among everything else).
We created a list of important things to pay attention to when planning for an all-hands meeting, so that the investment of time (and sometimes money) pays off.
All hands meetings are decades old, but this activity still is the key to sharing company success, discussing the current state of things, answering questions and planning for the future.
All hands meetings are a vital part of the company culture. In some cases, depending on the size of the company, an all-hands meeting may be a noticeable expense, so the organizers must prepare thoroughly and make sure the company takes more out of the meeting than they put in.
Here are 8 pro tips to consider when setting up for an all-hands meeting:
1. Make sure people are open to share their real thoughts and questions
All hands meetings are designed to allow employees to ask questions, but many employees are afraid to ask questions in an open setting, where all the attention will be focused on them. It is not realistic to expect many people show their real thoughts without pressure in such an environment.
But what if they could do that without having to worry about their identity and therefore allow company management team to get raw data? Swift Polling is a tool which helps collect anonymous opinion with polls. Let your employees express their opinions without having to worry if it stands out. In fact, in most of the cases the managers are looking for such an opinion, but it’s hard to make sure everyone is free to express their thoughts. It is very easy to use. Your employees can all participate either from their phones via texting (SMS), or any tablets or any internet connected device. The questions and responses will be presented in real-time with moderation tools.
2. Keep it interesting
Presentations are a good way to deliver summary information or details on a specific subject. What is oftentimes not good is that people tend to over complicate presentations with too much data and information. As an organizer make sure that presentations are concise and understandable in advance. Typically, the presentations must not take more than 1.5 hours each, after which hardly anyone will still be paying attention.
3. Time-box activities in advance and share the agenda
Everyone is busy nowadays, and you don’t want to waste your colleagues’ time on something which is not worth it. Ask your presenters and speakers to make sure they do not occupy the stage for too long, and also ensure they plan for Q&A sessions either during the presentation (short 5 minute question and answer breaks).
Sharing the agenda also keeps everyone focused and helps to finish when planned. This way your colleagues can plan their time without having to account for possible extension of the meeting.
4. Introduce new colleagues
All-hands meetings are an excellent opportunity to indoctrinate new people into your corporate culture. Being introduced in the presence of everyone emphasizes responsibility, and put the new colleague in the welcoming hands of your team. It also makes it easy for the new people to start work, because everyone else already know their position and a little background. Such introductions often create connections for the newcomers straightaway.
5. Forget conflicts and celebrate small successes
All hands meetings are the worst place to discuss old (read- anything that has happened earlier than the last 5 minutes) conflicts. Get over anything that may bring a negative note to your meeting. Large gatherings are extremely vulnerable to conflicting situations. Let your team focus on the most important things – small successes, which move the entire company forward step-by-step. Success is always bigger when shared, so do not ever hesitate to mention any small or big success your company has had recently, and make sure you thank the main contributors along with the whole company.
6. Do not ignore remote team members
It is increasingly more common to have a distributed team (whether remote or working from home). Involving everyone in your company-wide, all hands meetings is very important. Getting the right technology (i.e. conference video, microphone, etc.) is one of the biggest factors for enabling each person to not just listen/watch, but also to participate freely.
7. Share company plans for the future
While it is great to discuss the current state and recent successes, it is also critical to give your employees a fresh perspective on the company’s plans. Take a chance to inspire your team and kickstart a journey towards new accomplishments together.
8. Reserve some space for fun
This can be done in many ways. Often companies invite musicians and artists, or choose a non-typical setting (like a resort) for their all hands meeting sessions. This helps employees take a chance to relax and have some fun apart from only discussing work related things.
To decide what exactly most of your people would prefer, organize a poll and provide many options to choose from. Let your company decide how they want to spend their time working and having fun.