We’ve all seen the memes that say, “This meeting could have been an email.” Unfortunately, we’ve also all experienced that reality.
But one meeting that should stay on your calendar (or one you should add) is the all hands meeting. These meetings are planned with intention and embedded with data to discuss your organization’s health and share progress toward company goals.
In fact, all hands meetings are a must for transparent leaders who value putting their people first and creating an equitable, inclusive workplace environment.
What is an All Hands Meeting?
All hands meetings – also known as All Staff meetings or Town Halls – are regularly-scheduled presentations for your entire workforce.
All hands meetings provide an opportunity for people-first teams to open communication lines between employees and leadership. When done well, all hands meetings will drive alignment across teams and help employees see the big picture.
Oftentimes, transparent leaders choose to share:
- How the organization is tracking toward quarterly goals
- Reasons to celebrate, including new hires and company milestones
- Product roadmaps
- Any company-wide changes, such as hiring procedures, team structures, or headcount plans
Additionally, great leaders know that one aspect of being transparent is delivering consistent, accurate information to employees. That’s why having frequent all hands meetings is so important – it allows leaders to establish your organization as a dependable resource that will share credible knowledge with its people.
Emily Connery, VP of People at ChartHop, notes the consequences if your organization doesn’t have transparent leaders: “Employees [will] fill in the gaps with their own — often negative — assumptions. Jumping to conclusions rarely generates positive outcomes. And it is more likely to happen when organizations hide poor numbers, deliver inconsistent messages on company goals, or engage in other deceptive behaviors.”
And that intentionality surrounding being transparent helps create a stronger employee experience. Lindsey Caplan, Founder and Lead Consultant at The Gathering Effect, says: “The truth is these events do more than share information. They affect morale, motivation, and engagement.”
Ready to establish or strengthen your all hands Meeting? Read the checklist below to help guide you through every step of the planning process.
All Hands Meeting Checklist
The following all hands meeting checklist is separated into different sections: the setup, the day-of, and post reflection.
Setup: Establishing Your All Hands Meeting Cadence
- Leadership Team
- People Ops Manager
Planning Your All Hands Meetings
- Choose the best space to gather your team (online or offline).
- Set a fixed date and cadence (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) and send calendar invitations.
- (Facebook meets weekly, Buffer has All Staff meetings on a monthly basis).
- Document a recurring meeting agenda and share it with your teams.
- Establish a set of best practices, such as cameras on and microphones off (during a virtual event) or computers closed (during an in-person meeting).
- Determine the slide show template you want to use for your meetings.
Leadership Team Tasks
- Decide on various presenters.
- ChartHop’s CEO starts every all hands meeting, then there’s a weekly rotation of departmental presentations.
- If diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) isn’t its own department, make sure you give those involved in leading these initiatives time to present.
- Gather important data you want to showcase.
- Transparent leaders share pertinent data. This data may look like company KPIs, new hires, or employee feedback.
- Send requests for team leads to add various slides to the all hands meeting presentation.
People Ops Manager Tasks
- Organize all slides in one presentation.
- You can also request that leaders work off the same slide document.
- Appoint your moderator.
- Collect questions before the meeting.
- ChartHop collects questions anonymously for the CEO to answer. This is one of the ways the company embraces transparency and addresses concerns to everyone.
Day-Of: On All Hands Meeting Day
People Ops Manager tasks
- Introduce your agenda.
- Have various speakers present.
- Ask for questions and comments.
- It’s important for the People Ops manager to constantly check the chat (if all hands meetings are virtual) to ensure all questions are answered.
Leadership Team Tasks
- Respond to questions that pop up during the meeting that are pertinent to your department.
Post Reflection: After Your All Hands Meeting
People Ops Manager Tasks
- Share recordings and slides with the whole team.
- It’s best practice to keep these in one location for easy reference.
- Ask for feedback on what your team would like to include in the next meeting.
- This looks different at every organization. In smaller companies, leaders can request week-by-week feedback. In larger companies, department managers can surface top concerns from their reports.
- Update the agenda for the upcoming all hands.
Use Company-Wide Meetings to Lead with Transparency
Whether you meet with your workforce weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, you set a precedent of being transparent. That’s because when you schedule routine all hands meetings, you deliver pertinent information, which helps teams align and empowers your people to reach their goals.
Use the above checklist to ensure your people receive the right information to help them do their best work and continue striving for excellence.
If you’re a people leader, you have the opportunity to help shape your company culture. Being transparent – through the use of all hands meetings – is a way to strengthen your culture through increased communication and team alignment. Looking for other initiatives as a new people leader? Read our guide on what to do in your first 90 days.
Download the guide here