Everyone likes to feel like they are an important part of what’s going on around them. Even though most people wouldn’t be missed much if they spun off into oblivion, organizations everywhere help mollify their workforce by engaging in the ridiculous pantomime of holding “town hall” meetings where everyone troops into the auditorium and tries not to look too bored as executives click through several dozen slides that someone made for them. Then they open the floor for a handful of delusory questions, give the shiny happy answer, and close the meeting because 99 times out of 100 no one in the room wants to ask what’s really on their mind. Most of us leave with no more information than we had when we showed up, but at least marched an hour or two closer to the end of the day. That’s a mercy at least.
Of course it’s only a small mercy if it’s not a two hour town hall scheduled to start an hour before most of your employees are supposed to be heading home. There’s also a good chance that if it’s the third “mandatory” meeting in the last four weeks to cover the same general set of topics and it’s just being presented by a different talking head, it could be overkill. As good an idea as these meetings were when they were held by our sainted forefathers in New England, they’ve lost a little of their zip. Maybe it’s time to get out the ol’ thinking cap and come up with a better way to engage the people.
Of course if you’re not actually looking for input from anyone, then feel free to disregard this idea in its entirety.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.