4 ways to engage employees in your town hall

Whether they’re skeptical, naturally timid, or just feeling unprepared to enter the discussion, your staffers should play a key role in your exchange. Here’s how to get them involved.

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I have evaluated dozens of CEO/executive town halls. As idealists, when we plan these events we envision a turn-of-the-century town hall during which passionate employees engage in vigorous debate with organizational leaders.

Maybe you are a realist and simply seek to support your CEO through an engaging event where employees were heard and seen with minimal risk. The latter seems to be typical according to most evaluations.

Most forums have too much content and a lengthy presentation with too much detail. In addition to substance, our leaders tend to be too positive and rarely negative, and employees don’t think they are getting the truth. This sort of comment is heard: “That is not the real strategy; the real strategy happens behind closed doors.”

The good news is that employees tell me they really do want to know and understand strategy and what is impacting the business. They just don’t believe that happens in leader forums.

Senior executives tell me they want to know the best way to share their direction and strategy for the organization. Employees tell me they want the truth. They want unscripted answers and to participate in a discussion about the competing demands placed on the business.

Getting the ball rolling

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