Meeting the employees

Glasshouse meeting (def. in my company): A meeting held between the HR manager and a group of employees (excluding their managers) to assess the situation on the floor, to provide a forum for the employees to voice their concerns and communicate with them.

There are a number of forums designed in our company where the employees get a chance to interact with the HRBP. It is important for us to do so to gauge the pulse on the floor and be able to take proactive measures to abate a variety of problems. It also gives employees a feeling that the HR does care about them. There are innumerable benefits of good employee connect and one forum in which we meet them is the ‘glasshouse’. 

These meetings are not without their drawbacks. What is done with good intention usually backfires when the group consists mostly of disgruntled employees. You become a target for all ill will. While it may be deemed necessary to provide a forum for the employees to vent out their anger, frustration and so on, I am sure there is a better way to handle it.

Some of my initial glasshouse meetings were a total disaster. I was badgered with grievances and pushed to such an extent that I became defensive. The meeting transformed into purely a crib session and people walked out of the room (including me) feeling worse than when they entered. There are always some who will present the problems to be bigger than they are and bring down the morale of the employees.

Very soon I will be doing another round of these meeting but this time I’ve decided that they will be different. I’ve pulled some inspiration from appreciative inquiry and merged them with my session plan and here is what I plan to do:

I plan to begin my session by asking the employees to ponder for five minutes on what it is about their company, department, colleagues, managers etc that they like.  I will ask them to list down five positive things about coming to work every day. Once that is done, I am going to ask them to fill in the blank in the statement – ‘I like working in this department because —————————–‘.  Once the group is in a comparatively positive state of mind, I collect the sheets from them and begin to ask about issues and what they do not like.

 I know with the appraisal ratings just about to be declared, I will be badgered all over again but I don’t want everyone to walk out the room upset. A lot of issues can be and will be sorted during the meeting. Issues will be tracked and closed but to have the employees leave out of the room on a higher note, I will then read out the completed sentences of ‘I like working —————‘at the end of the meeting. I am sure the sentences will bring about a few laughs. These comments will then be printed and put up on a board for all to see.

I am hoping this practice will spread a wee bit of cheer about. I know everyone in the department would enjoy themselves reading what their peers had to say. Of course, the tracker will also be circulated but we’re all hoping that the attention will be elsewhere till the issues are near closure.

There will be total mayhem after the ratings are disclosed but then that is another story altogether- one that I’ll take you through as and when it happens.


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