The terror of town halls

It seems like everywhere I go, the topic of employee town hall meetings comes up. (Or am I the one who mentions town halls? Hmmmm.)

For example, a few years ago when I was in Texas, I visited some cousins (I’ll call them Kyle and Karen), who both work for large well-known corporations.

We started talking about town halls (I don't know how that happened) and I told my relatives that I just held a series of web workshops for a client to help company vice presidents improve their town halls.

“I wish you’d come to our company,” said Kyle. “Our town halls are terrible.”

“Ours, too,” said Karen. “I’ll bet our town halls represent the worst practice in employee meetings.”

Naturally, I wanted to know more. What, in their opinion, made their town halls so terrible? Here’s what they told me:

  • “When our most senior executives hold an employee meeting, you have to submit questions in advance. Otherwise, you can’t ask a question.”
  • “Our leaders cram our town halls full of so much content, it’s difficult to make sense of it. It’s just a bunch of data.”
  • “Even though we use web meeting technology, it’s all one-way. They don’t use chat, or polling, or any of the other features to get people involved.”
  • “My department head (who’s located in another city) tries to hold web sessions for our group, but as far as I can tell, he doesn’t have an agenda. So he’s all over the place.”
  • “They allot 10 minutes for questions, but the presentations always run long. And by the time you even get to the Q&A, you’re so overwhelmed and bored that you just want it to end.”
  • “My company takes attendance at town halls. So you’ve got to be there. But what they present means nothing to me. So I just look at my watch waiting for the hour to be over.”

Does this sound familiar? Are your town halls terrorizing your employees instead of engaging them? I’ve got lots of ideas on how you make town halls less terrifying. If you’re interested, let’s talk . . . 

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