Keep Your Team in the Game – The Art of the All-Hands Meeting

HandsAll-hands meetings are often trickier than they seem. Timing can be problematic – if you are a public company you most certainly want to wait until earnings are released so you can talk actual results, but that’s several weeks into the next quarter and by then the energy to share thoughts on how your business is doing is waning and people have generally moved on to focus on what’s ahead, not what’s behind.

If you’re the top executive in a larger organization, you also have to navigate the minefield of how many other teams in your organization also host a business review. No one relishes the thought of paid employees sitting through endless org meetings, so best to keep it to a minimum.

That said, my experience is that these meetings are well worth it if you follow a few basic constructs.

1. Don’t just review the financials – Yahoo Money and the WSJ do a fine job of this for your employees. Give them your thoughts on what the results mean to your business and your industry, and tie them back to your goals and key initiatives. Help people feel connected to the results. And don’t just cover the easy stuff – hard numbers, give the headlines across the teams. Not everyone carries a quota, but everyone contributes to results, good or bad.

2. Recognize individuals and specific teams. It works at the State of the Union, it will work for you. People love hearing their names, their friends’ names, and they want to know what it takes to stand out. Look at social media. We’re all following people and seeing what they are doing.

3. Get the whole leadership team involved. Make sure people know you are all aligned, whether it’s true every minute of the quarter or not.

4. Make it fun and engaging. Don’t just talk for 90 minutes. Solicit questions and feedback, poll the audience, serve some food before or after to encourage people to connect, spotlight a customer, show a cool demo. Mix it up.

People want to feel they are contributing to something bigger than their own little area at work – this is one way to make sure they do. Connect with them.

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