As part of an effective communications plan, town hall meetings are increasingly used within the workplace to help improve communication between employees and executives.
These meetings are often a good opportunity for leadership to communicate important information including new initiatives, personnel changes, and recent mergers or acquisitions. Town halls are not only critical for maintaining organizational transparency, but they are also a good opportunity to leverage a large chunk of undivided attention from employees.
If you have yet to hold your first town hall meeting, here are a few things to consider:
If you need to plan your town hall at an offsite location, wait until you have a firm commitment from your speakers before planning any additional parts of the meeting. Whether your hold your meeting on or offsite you should be prepared to include catering, production, and technology all under one roof. If you don’t yet have the right webcasting technology lined up, now is the time to get this sorted. In fact, depending on your industry, you may be mandated to record important meetings and later post them online.
Many CEOs and executives have a tradition of sugar coating certain topics and news to employees. This isn’t always for malicious reasons, but rather to protect false information from being communicated. While it may not always feel like it, leadership’s role is often to put the best possible light on conditions in the organization. However, most employees usually recognize when they are being lied to. This is why it’s critical that leadership is transparent as possible. The more information you are able to provide employees, the less likely rumors will circulate.
Expect to be challenged
If you are running a town hall meeting, you need to be realistic about feedback. Expect there might be some negativity, and expect that not everyone in your audience will be receptive to what you have to say. Again, it all comes down to preparation. Your audience will be more appreciative of what you say when you have the right information and facts to back it up.
Consider remote employees
Whether your organization has remote employees, dispersed offices, or employees on the road, you need to consider a stronger way to leverage communication technologies to make your event available to these people. Webcasting is becoming an increasingly popular way of hosting town hall meetings. Best of all, you can take advantage of tools like live polls, Q & A, and surveys. Hosting online also helps reduce costs associated with large town hall style events as smaller meeting rooms can be booked. With today’s technology, there is no excuse for not reaching every single employee.
Don’t forget to follow up
Finally, don’t forget to follow up with your employees. Likely not every employee was able to attend, so the first thing you will want to include in your follow up is a copy of the recording. A robust webcasting solution will allow you to automatically store your videos in a secure portal for easy access. You also might want to send out a survey asking employees for their feedback on the session. As mentioned before, it’s all about transparency. And the more transparent you are, the more respect your employees will have for you.