Company Meetings: Successfully Connecting with Employees

GAI’s President and CEO, Gary DeJidas, speaks out on…Company Meetings: Successfully Connecting with Employees

As President and CEO of a rapidly growing, multi-generational engineering firm, I am learning about the importance, and difficulty, of connecting and effectively communicating with all employees at once. In this blogpost, I would like to share some tips we have learned over the last year. But first, let me share a story…

At GAI, we regularly conduct biannual ”State of the Company” meetings, where the entire staff from all 30 offices and numerous remote field locations tunes in over WebEx to hear the firm’s financial, technical, and administrative initiatives. I thought we were doing well by being transparent, sharing information, and asking for suggestions and feedback. But last year, I recognized that attendance at these important meetings was dropping. Concerned, I asked “Why?” I discovered that we had been delivering our presentations in the old, traditional “engineering” meeting style, where the top leaders lecture like professors, stand in front of a podium, and read from content-packed PowerPoint slides. Our employees were falling asleep! More concerning to me was that, as employee owners (we are an ESOP firm), they were losing interest in information that was critically valuable to them.

In today’s world of video, sound bites, Twitter and instant communication, CEOs need to take a hard look at how they effectively communicate with staff. We can either “change or die.” I learned that a multi-generational staff requires communication channels that appeal to a broad audience, and we must deliver messages that have personal relevance to employees. Making that all happen in one meeting is difficult, but it can be done.

By adding video, employee recognition, fun content (outtakes/bloopers of the videos), and graphic displays of business information, our attendance increased, positive feedback flowed immediately, and employees began to provide helpful suggestions for future meetings. They became actively engaged!

We are still working to improve our communication, but take a look at how GAI recently altered the look, feel, content, and direction of our biannual company-wide meetings. We are changing–just as we need to do!

Take a look at the short video montage from GAI’s recent State of the Company meeting.


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