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How we live internal communication: The FireStart Townhall

An article by Isabella Kis

Over the last few years at FireStart, we’ve outgrown our start-up shoes and are confidently developing in the ‘Enterprise’ direction. In so doing, however, we’re beginning to face and overcome new challenges. One of the most important factors is – and you’ve probably guessed it already – internal communication. With new and expanded departments, a growing number of employees, and the continuous development of our worldwide locations, we’ve had to consider new communication strategies.

Each and every team member should be up to date when it comes to FireStart. This was and is our main goal when it comes to communication. And so the Townhall was born.

How the FireStart Townhall works:

Every month, the ‘Folks of FireStart’ all meet for a communal – in our case virtual – exchange, during which management updates us on the latest company developments and fields questions from the team afterwards. This is how we practice one of our most important values: company-wide transparency.

Appreciating our team members is a matter near to our hearts, which is why everyone gets the opportunity to present current projects during the Townhalls. In slots, which can be booked before each session, employees have the chance to present a finished project, milestone, or other achievement. And, of course, other team members have the opportunity to offer constructive feedback.

Any Questions?

Should there be any topics that weren’t addressed in the Townhall, but are still important to the team, employees can submit questions both before and during the Townhall. Before the Townhall, everyone can submit anonymous questions via a form, and these questions will be answered in the Q&A session that ends each meeting.

It’s an Eternal Cycle; or: Ask for Feedback

At FireStart, continuous improvement is a top priority for us. No, not because it’s a buzzword, but because we truly care about and value the ideal. It’s not for nothing that our BPM platform describes a cycle whose final step is ‘Improve’.

As such, we also strive to constantly improve and develop our Townhall: After each session, a short questionnaire is sent to the entire FireStart team. From the responses we’re able to identify potential areas of improvement for the next Townhall; and the cycle starts anew.

Particularly in the times of COVID-19, where our team is working from home, we’ve begun to appreciate our Townhalls even more. They give us the opportunity to see our teammates – at least virtually –, encourage the exchange of ideas, and give us a feeling of community. For us, the Townhalls are an enrichment that don’t want to do without.

Our Townhall Checklist

You’ve acquired a taste for Townhalls and want to introduce them in your company? Here is our handy checklist to Townhalls à la FireStart:

Why?

  • Improve internal communication
  • Keep your whole team up to date
  • Communicate important decisions

How?

  • Monthly meetings for the entire company
  • Approximately 30-minute-long update from management, then room for questions (roughly 15 minutes)
  • 5 minute slots that can be booked by the whole team (potentially allow extra time for Q&A)
  • At the end: 10 minutes for pre-submitted questions

Rules of the Game:

  • Open communication
  • Formulate feedback constructively
  • Speakers should prepare well so their presentations are short and to the point

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