All-hands meetings start to look quite different as company headcount increases. What begins as five people huddled around a table turns into an auditorium of 350+ employees (not to mention the hundreds more joining remotely) in what seems like the blink of an eye.
When you’re scaling rapidly, company meetings risk losing their impact. It’s challenging to keep an audience engaged and focused on the right goals at scale. Attendees are answering emails, remote employees feel like they’re looking in from the outside, and the information you share doesn’t always resonate with everyone in the room.
Full team meetings are an invaluable opportunity for the organization to align on key priorities and build relationships with each other. It’s important to go in with a clear strategy that maximizes employee engagement across all teams and locations.
Early on, Namely all hands meetings were synonymous with pizza. Meetings were held at the end of the day and culminated in a shared meal. Eating together was a staple of the community and a nice reward for the month’s hard work. As we grew, it was important to continue this tradition. In that spirit, we started catering all company meetings to scale the practice with the addition of new team members so people have the opportunity to get to know each other.
Prioritize Team Bonding
When you’re under 50 employees, every face in the room is familiar. As you grow, it’s challenging to maintain that sense of camaraderie and collaboration. It’s nearly impossible to know all 500 employees by name, but all hands meetings can help break down barriers and bring people together. Asking new hires to introduce themselves and sharing appreciations between colleagues are just two simple ways that we’ve unified our workforce.
Keep It Conversational
With a small group of people, employees at all levels can easily ask questions and share ideas. A larger headcount makes it harder for individuals to feel like their voice matters. At Namely, we’ve implemented a variety of initiatives to make leadership more accessible to employees. In our company meetings, we use an interactive Q&A platform that allows employees to ask and upvote questions during the meeting. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to share their questions and allows presenters to respond to what’s on people’s minds.
Avoid Executive Jargon
An hour of executives talking at employees is an hour wasted. While it’s important to share business updates and key metrics, this should be a small part of the meeting. Instead, finding ways to connect these updates to day-to-day activities of different teams is a powerful way of making strategy real. Whether it’s HR sharing information on new benefits, engineers teasing an upcoming feature, or even the finance team getting 15 minutes of fame, these meetings should engage employees across all functions and levels, not just the executive suite.
Time Meetings Strategically
All-hands meetings are most effective when as many employees as possible are able to join. Scheduling meetings closer to the end of the day helps make it possible for the largest number of people to attend. Hosting meetings at the start of the month (i.e. not when sales people and others are trying to hit end-of-month goals) also helps in this regard. Lastly, be sensitive to the length of the meeting. We always cap our meetings to an hour, ensuring that they don’t get in the way of employees’ work or home life. If you’re not able to address every question that comes up, post responses to unanswered questions on your company HRIS the next day.
The surest way to run a successful company meeting is to remember why you’re bringing everyone together in the first place. Growth is exciting at any company, and it’s important to scale the way you provide strategic updates with the human element of bonding between teams at each and every meeting.