We all know that when it comes to day-to-day performance, worker safety and organizational culture, no one has greater influence than front-line leaders.  And yet many organizations have crappy and infrequent meetings with these folks. At Humanus Solutions, we work with clients to develop front-line leaders; a key component of our program is regular, dynamic and energizing meetings between management and front-line leaders.  Here are five ways to upgrade your foremen’s meeting
  1. Get clear about why. The first step to improving your foremen’s meeting is being clear about your intention – why are you taking these folks out of the field? What’s the payoff you want from this investment?  When you’re clear about why, the how and what take care of themselves.
  2. Send a message with how you run the meeting. The way we run meetings with foremen will be reflected in how they run huddles and tailgate meetings with their team.  If we want foremen to be well prepared and energetic, if we want them to engage their audience and keep people interested, if we want them to give a damn about running a good meeting… we have to do the same thing ourselves!
  3. Include relationship building. This may sound corny, but when your foremen know a little bit about each other, they’re more likely to share ideas, ask for help and pitch in for one another.  So why not take five minutes at the start of your foremen’s meeting and say, “Stand up, find someone you don’t know very well and tell them about what you do when you’re not at work.”
  4. Get them talking.. and thinking. Next time you’re tempted to make a speech about an issue, ask a question instead. Tell people to turn to their neighbor and discuss the question – and then call on individuals to share. You may still give your speech, but it’ll have a greater chance of landing, if you get people talking (and thinking) first.   See our list of questions you can ask to get folks talking and thinking about a variety of leadership topics.
  5. Expect full attendance and never cancel the meeting. You knowyour front-line leaders are vital to your success.  Demonstrate this by making your foremen’s meeting the most important item on your calendar each week / month.  Expect every one to attend – and reciprocate by never cancelling or rescheduling the meeting.
The way we engage our foremen will be reflected in the way they lead their crews. So take time to run an effective meeting with your front-line leaders:  have a clear intention, prepare well and have conversations rather than making speeches. Interested in learning more?  Ready to develop your front-line leaders?  We’re ready to help.  About the author: Andy Erickson is a founder and principal consultant at Humanus Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in people-centric leadership. He can be reached at aerickson@humanus-solutions.com