I’m Just Here for the Food

I’m Just Here for the Food, By Angela Fieler

I was coaching an executive recently who was complaining that staff are “just not engaged.” I asked how he was defining employee engagement. At the root of his complaint was the fact that the CEO was doing quarterly town hall meetings at which staff simply didn’t talk.

Engaging Staff Through Town Hall Meetings

I asked what he was doing to engage his staff. His first response was, “We provide lunch.” I asked more probing questions and discovered that town hall meetings are always scheduled at noon for an hour. But, the staff have staggered 30 minutes lunch breaks that they are scheduled with two weeks’ notice. In addition, clinic staff appointments are booked out six to eight weeks in advance. During the town hall, executives fill at least 45 of the 60 allotted minutes with updates. The schedule was difficult at best for the staff.

After looking at town hall meetings through the eyes of the staff, the executive could see reasons other than lack of engagement that would explain why staff run in, grab food, and then leave without asking questions.

Finding the Optimal Format

After gaining new insight into the current town hall meetings, the executive immediately started redesigning the format. As I asked more questions, he realized that, he had a newfound appreciation for what wasn’t working. Then, he saw that he needed staff input to create a plan that would work for most staff. Their Town Hall plan is still a work in progress, but more people are attending and asking questions. It’s a step in the right direction.

In one coaching session, this executive was able to begin the process of designing a more effective Town Hall meeting. Through this, he also found ways of getting staff more involved in exchanging information. 

Contact us for more information about our executive coaching plans. If you need more clarity on the broader definition of employee engagement, consider our leadership workshop, Coaching for Engagement and Improved Performance.

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