In many circumstances, meetings with employees or town halls or whatever other nickname they are given, can become just venting sessions. This is when the the leader in you will need to take control of the meeting which is an essential part of employee engagement. The goal is to always have everyone’s input and at the same time make it meaningful, results driven and a meeting that your staff want to keep attending. There are some basic steps to take to create an environment where you maintain control, yet involve everyone.
The first step is to always ensure there is an agenda, which includes the topics and the timeframe. When your colleagues and staff know the agenda, they are more likely to stay on the agenda as well as for you to steer them back on track. The mission and purpose will help inspire the goals.
Set the ground rules for all meetings. For example, ensure everyone knows there is no interruptions while another is talking, no cell phone use, always give criticism to ideas, not people, ask for clarification if necessary, etc… Establishing respect for each other will curtail any emotional responses.
When there is complaints, ensure not to become defensive. Rather, a display of understanding and concern will simply go further. This shows your staff that you genuinely care. Show empathy and then strive for clarity and get into the specifics.
Finally, move into the solutions. Make your employees your partners in solving the problems. You will see very quickly that there are many times they have great ideas and once they are part of the solution, the problems are solved quicker. The “Team” concept is very much at play here. Once the perception is that there is a team, it will surprise you how quickly the perception changes.
Lastly, the meeting is finalized when the goals and commitment to fulfill those goals are in place. The time line should be mapped out and the follow up meeting set up.