Teamwork means everyone pulls in the same direction. The only way that can happen is if everyone understands what is going on around them and what is expected of them. They must also be committed to the company’s success.
All-employee meetings once a month can do wonders in helping employees to stay committed to the company’s success. It not only helps them do their job better, it helps them know that they are an important part of the team and that their efforts are valuable to the company.
At Spectracom, we held the monthly meetings during a mid-morning break time and brought donuts for everyone (Free coffee was available every day, but the coffee drinkers had to make it when the pot was empty.). The 15-minute break was extended to 30 minutes for the meeting, but occasionally took longer, depending on the topics being discussed. Here are some of the topics we covered:
a. Shipping vs New Orders — At every meeting we announced whether the factory had shipped more than the new orders received by the sales department, and vice versa. This fostered some good-natured competition between those two departments and helped everyone know how their own efforts related to the rest of the company. Occasionally we described large new orders received, and told how the customer would use our products and how the new business would affect the Company.
b. Employee Manual — When we modified a topic in the employee manual (e.g. vacation or sick policy) we used the meeting to describe the change and to answer questions about it. When we added a sexual harassment policy to the manual, we discussed it in the meeting, while making meaningful eye contact with those who most needed the information.
c. Profit Sharing and 401k Plans — After the end of each fiscal year, we explained the Company contributions to each plan and answered questions about them. In our monthly meetings we connected company success and profitability to employees’ jobs and how their efforts could increase their share of Company profits.
d. Customer Thank You Letters — When we got a thank you letter from a happy customer, we read it to our employees at the meeting. It didn’t happen often. Most industrial and government customers are too busy handling their own problems, but now and then when we got an unsolicited letter complimenting us on our product or our customer service, we made a big deal of it. At the company meeting we made sure to publicly thank those responsible for our earning the customer letter.
e. United Way Pitch Day — We didn’t believe in putting pressure on our employees to donate to the United Way campaign each year. But we did want to give the employees an opportunity to contribute. The middle ground we chose was to dedicate one meeting each year to the United Way campaign. We invited the United Way representative to attend the monthly meeting to explain their programs for supporting the less fortunate segments of our community and to make their pitch for donations. We handed out pledge donation forms and offered payroll deduction services to collect the donations, but applied no further pressure. None.
f. Bad Economic Times — When business turned down, we discussed it at a meeting, letting the folks know that we were doing everything we could to avoid a layoff. Open communications and honesty are the best way to handle difficult situations. Don’t let those difficult situations surprise your team members. An advance warning can defuse resentment.
g. Special Recognitions — Whenever someone did something special, either inside or outside the Company, we recognized them at a monthly meeting. We sang Happy Birthday to those with birthdays that month. We called attention to those who went beyond the call of duty in their jobs. When someone stepped forward to clean out the break room refrigerator we praised them for getting rid of the container of e. coli. that had been fermenting there for weeks.
We never ran out of topics to cover at our meetings, and everyone had fun celebrating the Company’s successes, small and large. These meetings let everyone, from the shipping clerk to the vice presidents, know that they were part of a team, all working toward the same goals. If you do the same, it will build respect into your employees’ attitudes, and excellence into your customers’ opinions of your company.