Informal meeting with staff... would I be sending the wrong message?

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by chrisklinger, Jan 16, 2010.

  1. chrisklinger

    chrisklinger
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    Hello all...

    Last year, after deciding that I wanted more from life than 16 hour days in my office, I hired first a general (administrative) manager, and then promoted another employee to operations manager (my friends tease me that it takes two people to do my job;)

    The transition has not been entirely painless, and employee moral has fallen.

    Besides regular and structured meetings, I occasionally hold an open forum, open to all employees who wish to participate. These tend to draw more suggestions, ideas and, yes, criticisms, but they are an open venue through which I gain valuable insights.

    My question is this: as I am seen as more approachable, and my management style is more personable, I am considering asking my managers to not participate in this meeting. I strongly suspect that many observations would be made with the managers in absentia. However, in spite of believing that the forum would larger and more participatory without the managers, I have reservations that I may be sending the wrong message to the employees, and that this could be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in my management, whis it certainly is not.

    Ideally, I would like to find a way to make it clear that I have faith in my managers, yet still exclude them from this forum (unless I receive an overwhelming number of replies that say it's aterrible idea).

    Opinions?

    TIA,
    Chris
     
  2. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Chris having an open forum to get the views, opinions and feedback of your staff is an excellent idea. Personally I feel that inviting your managers to these forums does demonstrate confidence in them, and that leaving them out could have a negative impact. Your managers should also have the opportunity to hear the views expressed by your staff and hearing these views may help them to do their job better.

    Why do you think "moral has fallen" in recent times? Would having an open door policy where staff members felt comfortable having a one to one chat with you, help to improve moral? Having this open door policy and encouraging staff members to speak to you on a one to basis should help to ensure that you get to hear open and frank views from your staff and this could alleviate any difficulties caused by having your managers at the forums.

    You could also consider having lunch with small groups of your staff, in addition to the open forums. Taking three to four staff members to a relaxed setting for lunch, outside of the business premises could create exactly the type of atmosphere you need to encourage open and frank discussion.

    Please post back with your thoughts and good luck with everything.
     
  3. seanstevens

    seanstevens
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    The one thing I would not personally do is hold an open meeting and then not have your managers there. This would alienate your managers and probably lead their morale to drop which would have a knock on impact to the rest of the team.

    Lets face it, most people will always find fault with their manager even if they are the worlds most friendly person. Some people moan for fun. As your company grows you may need to make some tough choices and having a completely open environment may not always work. Are you 100% sure your managers are up to the task? do they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them? Are they meeting with each individual staff member on a regular basis to set goals and expectations? these are just a few questions that need to be looked into.
     
  4. mv5869

    mv5869
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    I agree with Sean. Having an open forum without your managers would send the wrong message to the staff. If the staff thought that they had a “private” line to you it could undermine the relationship between the managers and the staff. Not to mention what it would do to managers’ morale.

    It sounds to me like the issue here is that relationships between the managers and the other staff is not so close as it is with you. That relationship is key. I’d suggest that instead you try letting the managers run the open forum, with you there as just another “equal” member, to answer questions that are best answered by you, for example any queries about future direction of the business, strategy etc. On top of that, you could do a regular floorwalk to speak to staff informally. Its amazing what you pick up from these little informal conversations.
     
  5. chrisklinger

    chrisklinger
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    Thank you!

    Firstly, permit me please to apologise for the delay in acknowledging the responses received; my server went down, and I spent many days and nights working to restore from backups and get everyting running again.

    I wish to express my appreciation to Fergal, Sean and MV for the replies; they were extremely useful, and I did indeed follow the adivice given, holding an open forum with the managers present.

    The meeting was a huge success, and became the talk of the grapevine during the following days, with many of those that chose not to stay demonstrating regret for not having participated.

    Thanks to all of you for helping not make what could have been a serious mistake.

    Best regards, and luck to all,

    Chris
     
  6. Fergal

    Fergal
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    Thanks for the update Chris, glad to hear that it worked out so well for you. Please feel free to ask any further business questions you have and to join in our the forums discussions so that other members can benefit from your valuable business experience.
     
  7. bistones

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    Informal meeting with staff is a good way to find out the problem in your company. You can make a rule that how many staff meeting and manager meeting per year.
     

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