In today’s work environment, corporate communication touchpoints with the full workforce are so important to open up the lines of communication between executives and employees. Townhall meetings are one such touchpoint that is very common in organizations. More often than not, the communication flow in these meetings becomes primarily one way with the Executive(s) sharing information and employees listening. There may be an opportunity at the end for some questions; if the time permits. As a result, the level of engagement and effectiveness can be suboptimal. And this is not at all what the Executive is aiming for as an outcome.
When COVID hit and many workforces shifting to more remote workers, challenges with townhall meetings became amplified. This was certainly the case at Ferring Canada. We worked with Lee Ferreira – General Manager of Ferring Canada, to improve the townhall experience for her and her people. Lee will tell you today that she “will never go back to how we were doing things before!”
When Lee brought up her concerns about the effectiveness of these forums in April, I became really curious. I have seen Lee in action and know that she is an extremely engaging speaker and presenter. And she is also very skilled in creating a presentation that taps into the heads, hearts and hands of her people. So, what was she struggling with? After a great conversation, the bottom line was that Lee was concerned with two things:
- Were all of her people receiving the same message?
- Were these communication forums effective and engaging for her people?
When asked about the previous meetings, Darryl Mallett – Business Unit Director shared: “People who are not onsite during the meeting would lose significantly in the quality of the experience.” Sound from those gathered in the room made hearing the messages really difficult. “The playing field in terms of the experience for everyone was not very level,” says Darryl.
This challenge created a huge opportunity to try something new. I had just completed an intensive course in virtual facilitation and was really excited to test out a few things. Lee and her Senior Leadership team were 100% on board and we began a great journey to deepen connection and engagement with the experience for the organization. What we ended up doing were some really simple yet impactful things. We would like to share our insights with you.
Simple Yet Impactful Strategies to Deepen Connection and Engagement
Feedback from the workforce has been overwhelmingly positive. “We had 100% attendance at our last townhall and 100% engagement throughout which you can see through the polls and interactive technology,” says Richard Judge the Director of Human Resources.
When asked to describe the experience in one word, the following word cloud was created in real-time:
According to Jackie Steinwall – National Specialty Manager, “We are getting more out of them now. It is the most connection we have ever had. With past sessions, we would never see senior leadership unless they presented. With this new format, we are able to see them all up there on the screen which increases connectivity and showcases teamwork.”
Lee has shared that they have “levelled the playing field with having everyone engaged in an effective way, hearing the same message and having the same experience. This has levelled up the experience for our people.”
We would love to hear about your townhall experiences; especially any cool things you have tried that have “levelled up” the experience for your people. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you want to learn more about the things shared in this blog, we are happy to assist.