The other day, a client called me to tell me about The Town Hall That Fell Flat.
My client (I’ll call him Ted) had been working closely with his leader to make the organization’s employee town halls meaningful and memorable. Over time, they had made a number of improvements, including encouraging more questions and celebrating successes. As a result, participation had increased and employees had positive feedback about the value of each session.
But, for a variety of reasons, the most recent town hall was not a success. The leader’s presentation was lackluster. There were hardly any questions. The energy in the room was low.
Ted and I discussed several ways to address the issues. At some point in the conversation, Ted asked the existential question, “Am I worrying about nothing? Does a town hall actually matter that much?”
For a moment, neither of us spoke. Are town halls critical? And then the answer was clear: Yes, every town hall is significant. Here are just a few reasons why:
- A town hall presents one of the few opportunities employees have for interacting (live) with senior leaders.
- As a result, town halls build employee confidence and trust in leaders.
- Leaders can be more candid than they can in written or recorded communication. That makes a town hall feel authentic.
- The best town halls share content employees can’t hear at the analyst meetings, by scanning media or in press releases. Because of that, town halls provide unique and valuable perspectives.
- Town halls bring people together from various locations and functions, so they create a sense of community.
Yes, town halls matter . . . which is why it’s so important you get them right. I'd be happy to give you ideas on improving your next town hall. Just let me know how I can help.