Last week we had our best-ever all-staff meeting. I’m not sure why it took us so long to understand that there’s a good way to have meetings and there is a bad way.
- Leave the planning till the last minute.
- Be repetitive, random and rambling
- Be vague about the meeting’s purpose
- Ask everyone to bring their own food
- Provide only floor seating
- Plan collaboratively – get input from all staff about what should be covered
- Plan meticulously – who will do what, in what order and for what reason
- Be crystal clear about the meeting’s purpose
- Provide great meals, on time, and cold water, hot tea and ice cream for dessert
- Find an AC hall with amazing, comfortable seats
Having done the BAD route a few times too many, this year we decided to go with the GOOD. What a difference!
Our friends at the Doon School loaned us the use of their exquisitely comfortable AC hall, with top-class acoustics, fabulous media equipment and simply incredible tech support (his name is Pervez and there was nothing he wasn’t able to do).
Baron’s Restaurant served excellent meals, along with tea and cold drinks. Everything was on time; nothing was forgotten. (Of course our own Sumita – Hostess Extraordinaire – made sure of it all.)
And then the content of the meeting itself.
This is a period of change and transition in the Foundation. We wanted staff to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going – but in the context of the country and its own development. We had presentations on the history of voluntary work in India (going back to the Rig Veda!); and on the differences between voluntary, professional and government work. We discussed salary issues and the importance of providing insurance for all staff. We talked about training – and about what it means to develop professionally. We looked at constructive criticism and conflict resolution.
People who had never spoken in a meeting before took the mike and shared what was on their minds.
Hindi was the language. Respect was the tone.
But since it was the Foundation, laughter permeated everything:
We are now well into the “week after” the fact, but I am still hearing from staff about how much they enjoyed the experience and how much they appreciated their concerns being brought forward in an all-Foundation event.
We are just getting started. We are learning all the time. Watch this space. It’s all happening here.