Holding an Effective All-hands Meetings for Small Business

No one likes to be in the dark, and that’s especially true for workers in the uncertain economy caused by the pandemic. Therefore, it’s imperative that you keep your employees informed and up to date on business operations and future goals.

A good way to organize and present vital information is to hold an all-hands meeting. That is, bringing together every member of your organization to share updates. These meetings don’t necessarily have to be weekly, you can hold an all-hands quarterly or annually if you have good employee communications policies in place for the rest of the year.

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Here’s some information to know about preparing for, and holding, an all-hands meeting for your team.

What is an all-hands meeting?

The name ‘all-hands meeting’ comes from the phrase ‘all hands-on deck’ – a signal that requires all ship crew members to go on deck.

An all-hands meeting, also called a town hall, is a regular, company-wide gathering where all employees, leaders, and stakeholders meet to discuss the business, share information, and answer questions. It’s important that members of your team receive the same information at the same time in the same way.

Goals of an all-hands meeting

It’s never a good idea to go into a meeting without an itinerary. Have a clear understanding of your goals so you can keep the meeting on track. The goals of an all-hands meeting should include:

  • Sharing updates about the business of the past month, quarter, or season
  • Reinforcing the company mission and strategy
  • Celebrating milestones and the people who made them possible
  • Answering any questions

If you have not held an all-hands yet, don’t worry. It’s never too late to get this important type of meeting on the calendar.

Why are all-hands meetings important for a small business?

All-hands meetings are good for both your business’ management team and employees. Some reasons to start planning an all-hands meeting include:

  • Engagement: Live communication, whether it's in person or virtual, is almost always more engaging than an email or memo. Most employees prefer updates from the business owner rather than reading about them in a company-wide email or hearing about them at the water cooler.
  • Connection: All-hands meetings help cement the connection with your employees. Team members have the opportunity to hear the company's leaders speak and share information. When you connect effectively with employees, you can spark enthusiasm about your business and where it’s headed.
  • Buy-in: A positive all-hands meeting can help employees feel more passionate about your business and how they contribute.
  • Inspiration: When you share business successes, employees can get inspired to set and achieve their own goals.
  • Trust: Transparency is more important than ever these days. Hearing information directly can increase trust between employees and executives.
  • Conversation: Every all-hands meeting needs a Q & A. The opportunity for employees to ask questions or offer feedback can get valuable conversations going. Being heard can also be a morale booster.

How to plan for an all-hands meeting

The word “meeting” can be unpopular in the business world. Work meetings have a reputation of being boring and a waste of time. However, if you take time to plan, you’ll be able to stay on topic and prevent the discussion from drifting too far off course. Here are some helpful steps you can take to help you prepare:

  1. Prep your team in advance

If all-hands meetings aren’t a regular occurrence in your organization, rumors surrounding the cause of the meeting might start to fly. Let employees know the main reason for the all-hands so you don’t set off alarm bells when scheduling. A good way to set the stage is to include an agenda along with the meeting invite.

  1. Keep your all-hands short and on time

Think short and to the point. If a meeting drags on and on, the participation and engagement of your employees can drop off. Show respect for their time by sticking to the meeting schedule.

  1. Focus on the right topics

Share information that is relevant and interesting to everyone who contributes to your operation. You might also want to touch on the overall industry and other news that can affect your business.

  1. Share both successes and opportunities

With your entire company gathered in one place, it’s an excellent time to share team project progress or outcome, present learning opportunities, or recognize employees who have gone above and beyond.  In addition to sharing the good news, don’t be afraid to share challenges and strategies to address them.

  1. Wrap up with a Q&A

Before the meeting, ask your team to submit questions about business-related items they might be curious about. Carve out a few minutes near the end of your all-hands meetings to address questions.

  1. Make it inclusive for all employees

When you’re hosting an all-hands meeting, make it inclusive for all employees. As many businesses pivot towards remote work, be sure to include those not on site. These days, technology makes it easy to bring people together from around the world.  Recording the meeting can also be helpful so attendees can review or those who were absent can still get the information as presented.

  1. Ask for feedback

An important factor in running effective all-hands meetings, and ensuring that they are effective, is getting feedback. You can use an easy, online, anonymous questionnaire like Survey Monkey® (SurveyMonkey.com). Ask your employees what they enjoyed about the meeting, what could be improved, and what they’d like to see changed for the next all-hands. This helps your team feel respected and heard, which can lead to better employee engagement.

Final thoughts

Today’s remote working environment can make scheduling an all-hands meeting challenging. Be aware of different time zones so you accommodate employee schedules. For guidance on employee management when working with remote team members, review our article here: 16 Tips for Managing Remote Workers. We outline challenges you might face and solutions to keep your team performance from dipping.

In addition to sharing business information during an all-hands meeting, end with something fun, social, or interactive. This can even be done in a remote environment. Our blog posts give ideas you can use to lighten the mood and get employees engaged.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The SmartBiz® Small Business Blog and other related communications from SmartBiz Loans® are intended to provide general information on relevant topics for managing small businesses. Be aware that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide specific recommendations to you or your business with respect to the matters addressed. Please consult legal and financial processionals for further information.