Keeping your whole team unified and on task is one of the most difficult things that any leader has to do. All hands meetings provide an outlet for leadership to communicate vision as well as motivate and unify their team. While it may seem like communicating a corporate vision or leaderships goals would be the most important element of this type of meeting, in reality it only serves a small portion of what should be accomplished. All hands meetings need to be motivators, both individually and as a team, and should serve as a pivot point to the next steps of success in your organization.
Why have an all hands meeting
An all hands meeting provides you with a place to unify the vision and action plan for the company. One of the most common things that unsuccessful teams struggle with is a lack of understanding for how each team member impacts the overall goal. These all hands meetings allow you keep your team on track and show all of your team members how critical they are to the entire mission. These meetings build team unity and keep teams working for the same goals in mind.
All hands meetings also provide you an opportunity to recognize the hard work your team is putting in, and publicly thank your team as a whole and the individual top performers. This is a somewhat slippery slope though, if you’re going to recognize top performers you should recognize true top performers and not the most popular or vocal people in your team. Consider carefully what it means to be a top performer or going above and beyond in your organization and reward a clear achievement.
What should I do during an all hands meeting
The real answer to what to do during an all hands meeting is completely up to you. Some all hands meetings are short, some are long, some are at your location some are in a separate location, and some are even held remotely. Where you hold your meeting will likely impact what you include in your meeting and the logistics that surround it. Holding a meeting remotely across several locations for example you’ll need to consider the logistical constraints of hosting a Q&A, and how not having those remote locations participate actively in the Q&A might impact what they get from the meeting. It is important to pay attention to the impacts and constraints of various activities will affect the participants. There is nothing worse than investing time and effort into a meeting to help your team come together only to find that it actually isolated or disconnected certain members.
Typically all hands meeting can include a variety of items. Most always they include some sort of an organizational update or some level product training or update. Realistically this is an incredible time to do these types of updates because most, if not all, of your team should be present. Jeff Bezos, who is well known for his all hands meetings with Amazon provides this great example of developing corporate culture and motivating that culture in this clip.
Outside of those things that are common among all hands meetings you can do anything you want. Consider bringing in a speaker either specific to your industry or generally motivational, doing team building exercises, breaking into small groups for some parts, or even having some live music. Make the meeting enjoyable and not something your people regret going to, and most importantly be understanding of the lost time to your business during the meeting. If you have the meeting and your people feel like they have to work overtime to catch up for lost time you are completely defeating your purpose.
Consider items that are interesting and fun, and particularly items that take your leadership out of their comfort zone and into some vulnerability can have some significant impact. Jeff Bezos in this clip took the ice bucket challenge during one of these meetings. This is a great example of the types of things that make leadership connect with their organization.
How often should I have an all hands meeting
All hands meetings should be regular but not necessarily common. These meetings can be costly, not only to organize but in lost time to your organization so having one every week might sound fun but just isn’t feasible. Most successful organizations have all hands meetings once a year but some do it more frequently. Every 6 months is another common timeframe but going more often than that might not be an efficient use of your time. Don’t be afraid to do what works for your group though, maybe it’s every 16 months. You have to determine what fits in your workflow and your budget.
All hands meetings are an extremely useful tool for all types of organizations. Take your organization to the next level and give an all hands meeting a try.