Six Strategies for Employee Roundtables That Work

Linda Dulye's picture

If you want to know what’s on one employee’s mind, just ask them. But what’s the best way to check the pulse of the organization?
A proven Dulye & Co. technique is the employee roundtable. We recommend these six strategies for roundtables that work:

1. Keep It Small. Invite only 10 to 12 participants to the session. The more people you have in a room, the easier it is for some of the more reserved participants to withdraw and keep quiet. If you have a smaller group, they will feel more a part of the discussion.

2. Keep It Diverse. Work to have as departmentally diverse a representation as possible, depending on the topic. You want to get input from different workgroups in the organization.

3. Keep It Focused. Try to keep the session to one topic if you can. Zero-in on feedback around the new time-tracking system, benefits plans, or vacation policy.

4. Keep Expectations in Check. The purpose of the roundtable is to gather input on a chosen topic. At the outset, let participants know that what they say is confidential, that you are there to listen, capture feedback and report out general comments to leaders (if applicable). Keep in mind, some participants may expect you to solve the issue you’re discussing. Be sure to set the expectation that you are not there to resolve issues.

5. Keep It Moving. Sometimes, particularly with hot topics, participants will get agitated. When you feel tempers flaring, move the discussion along. Ask others in the room to weigh in or move on to another question.

6. Keep It Short. 45-minute sessions seem to be the limit of participants’ collective attention span. This can work to your advantage: if employees know they have a small window of opportunity to provide their two cents on the topic, they’re more likely to speak up.

Learn More

  • Roundtables are terrific face-to-face communications opportunities. Learn more by listening to our podcast “High Touch Over High Tech.”


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