Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. Todd Dewett | Founding member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

Good leaders are busy, busy people, but they still have to find time to get out in the trenches and touch base with the team. You have to keep them in the loop, seek to be helpful, and answer their questions as needed. Unfortunately, you can’t be everywhere you’re needed all the time. Solution? The office press conference.

Once each week, put yourself on the hot seat. Announce the place and time, and invite the entire team. This is not a meeting. Meetings are usually dedicated to one issue and are run by someone in charge. Sadly, we all know they can be painful, slow, and unproductive. The office press conference is not dedicated to only one issue, it’s run by the employees, and it’s always productive.

At the designated time, step up to the proverbial microphone and say, “Thanks for coming. First question?” Then point to the first employee. Like any good politician, you can avoid tough questions by avoiding certain questioners. I’m not saying you should avoid tough questions, just the folks who too often want to address trivial matters. Use your time on the spot to solicit worthwhile questions.

Unlike most politicians, you will not give “non answer” answers.  We’ve all seen it. A question is asked and the politician speakers for several minutes but doesn’t come anywhere close to answering the question. In contrast, your goal is to mildly surprise your audience with candor. They might not always love what you have to say, but they will come to respect your honesty.

If you want to increase how seriously the employees take this event, limit the event to 30 minutes and only 4-5 questions. This will encourage the team to chat beforehand and decide upon the most pressing questions.  Nothing is off limits. No matter what you hear come out of their mouths – be as open as you possibly can without revealing anything you are not cleared to reveal. If they want you to address the budget, corporate strategy, a decision you’ve made, whatever – do it, and be honest.

Someone should tell the politicians this: a shocking thing happens when you get honest. People love honesty so much, they start accepting answers they don’t necessarily like. That’s how much we love not receiving BS.

Most bosses understand the need to keep the team in the loop. However, too many of them rely on electronic solutions.  The office press conference provides a better solution.  It’s face-to-face. They’re seeking information they want instead of you pushing information you think they need. Finally, you’re putting yourself at their mercy – which makes you real, honest, authentic, accountable, and worth listening to.