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18. May 2021
Why Our All-Team Meeting Is My Favorite Part of the Week
Over the past five years, Personio has grown to over 750 employees, expanded to four offices across Europe, and even weathered the storm of what the Covid-19 pandemic offered our customers, our employees, and us as a business. One of the things that has not changed over the years, though, is our weekly All-Team Meeting.
Every week, we wrap things up by providing an update on the business, where we stand, reminding us where we want to go by talking about our vision, and sharing what the different teams have achieved over the past seven days. It’s become an important ritual to close out each week, and for good reason.
I am a big believer that our All-Team Meeting makes an important contribution to the success of Personio and to fostering our culture. So, I want to share how it started, how we have changed it, and how it serves our core values and operating principles.
How Our All-Team Meeting Began
In 2016, we decided to start a company-wide update meeting that would happen once a week. At the time, we were five people strong, so it was more of a structured stand-up meeting where we would present updates to one another.
This meeting became a key for different departments to update the rest of the company on what they achieved and what challenges were in their way.
However, things changed quickly. As our offices grew, even with just being in several rooms instead of one, we found that with more people and more things happening, there was an increasing need to maintain communication.
So, the All-Team Meeting became a central part of our DNA and culture. We saw that it could serve a crucial function, and as we aspired for more growth, we knew it would continue to play a key role. But, what it really needed was structure and to make sense.
The (General) Structure of Our All-Team Meeting
Since 2016, I have helped lead approximately 250 All-Team meetings (out of around 265 or so total). And, since the very first All-Team, I have started every single one with the same three slides:
Reminding ourselves about the reason we exist (Our Core Purpose)
Talking about how we want to work towards it (Our Strategic Vision)
How we will measure progress towards it (Our BHAG)
It might sound repetitive (and it is), but essentially those are the three most foundational statements of Personio. Hence, I don’t think we can talk about them too often.
Typically, we also reserve some time for company-wide updates. This could include welcoming our new joiners, announcing new benefits, sharing funding announcements, and more. We get everyone on the same page when big news happens, and celebrate as a team.
Then, each department updates what they have achieved and any challenges they have encountered during the week. We try to keep things at a level that is relevant across teams, departments, and the organization.
This is our chance to celebrate wins, to analyze things that are lacking, or even where things went wrong. We learn from one another, and grant people access into what is happening, why it is happening, and what it means for business. For our core value of transparency, this is absolutely essential and thus such updates also include our revenue numbers, burn rate, and even our bank account balance if it’s relevant.
Then, to close the meeting, one team member provides their own Core Value presentation. That is where, each week, one colleague chooses one of our Core Values or Operating Principles and brings it to life with a story from their own experience.
Personally, I love this part of the meeting. I used to give Core Value and Operating Principle examples myself, but as we grew, I did not hear about the many great things that happen every week across the team. Thus, it has been incredibly inspiring to hear everyone’s stories about working together at Personio.
We finish off the week by closing with some music and drinks and, in pre-pandemic times, many would spend time in the lounge or out on our rooftop to relax and celebrate the weekend with their colleagues. We’re looking forward to that latter part becoming the norm again.
In a nutshell, this is our All-Team Meeting. But, over the years, things have changed…
What Changes Have We Made?
In the spirit of our operating principle, Seek To Improve, we are constantly trying to make our All-Team better and better. That’s because the reason for its existence is to emphasize transparency to everyone and to update people in the best possible way.
That does not happen by simply sticking to the script. We have built on our team spirit by trying new things, adding new elements, and figuring out new ways to emphasize Personio’s approach as one big team with a singular core purpose.
This has resulted in different update formats that we have experimented with, as well as a retrospective I have personally done with volunteers, across the organization, to challenge parts of the All-Team to understand what works and how to make it better.
Some of our most notable changes have included:
The creation of our Metrics Monday session. At first, we always gave a KPI update, then put a KPI in focus, but we soon realized that the numbers behind our performance warranted their own meeting. Hence, we broke it away from the All-Team and used it as a way to start off the week.
We also focused on accessibility. Especially for those who could not attend at that exact time, we record each meeting and share our slides to ensure everyone has equal access to what we are presenting.
As we grew, things changed. Even with our new offices, we started streaming the All-Team and I would, of course, regularly moderate from our different office locations.
And then, of course, our transition to remote work in the era of Covid-19. This was especially important and a true test for how the All-Team allows us to live our values. If anything, our All-Team meeting became even more crucial during this time.
It served as a joint touchpoint for the entire organization, and to provide important updates to our business. Given all the uncertainty, we offered full transparency in terms of what was happening, what needed to happen, and what decisions would be made.
It also gave us the chance to retain some key elements of what makes our meeting special. We still start and end with music, breakout rooms for people to chat afterward, and the “chat” feature in Zoom has become an engaging way for people to praise one another, ask questions, and offer their thoughts.
Our All-Team Also Comes In Different ‘Flavors’
We have also experimented with different All-Team ‘formats’ to share different kinds of information or to shine a spotlight on different parts of our organization.
For example, once a quarter there is an All-Team devoted to Product. We also recently introduced a Customer All-Team (where we invite a customer to share their experience using Personio with our entire team) and whenever we have a new founding round we invite the new investor for a fireside chat to introduce them to the team.
In a previous iteration of the All-Team, we used to report on department-specific OKRs each week. Now, we only do that once a month in a dedicated session entitled “OKR Update All-Team” across departments (as well as during our OKR Fairs).
What Is The Fundamental Idea Behind The All-Team?
The fundamental idea behind our All-Team is that it can be a crucial half-hour dedicated to our entire company getting on the same page.
It is also an expression of many of our Core Values, including:
#Transparency – Sharing relevant information and the reasoning behind it.
#CustomerEmpathy – Understanding our customers and how we can help them succeed.
#Teamspirit – Because we are one big team with one shared goal.
What’s My Favorite Part of Our All-Team Meeting?
There’s no doubt about it, it’s the excitement. Especially when we had the chance to do things in person, it was amazing to see people, with no phone in hand, keyed in and focused on what’s happening and so eager to learn.
While the clapping was not as audible in most of 2020, while in home office, I think the encouragement and excitement still exists. We often have hundreds of comments on our Zoom chat logs, and seeing that kind of engagement, praise for each other, and teamspirit always makes me smile. My own ritual to close off the week is to read through all of the comments in our chat after I’m done moderating the meeting.
It’s also the perfect way to close out the week. That’s the idea of having it on a Friday, as we offer a clear end to the working week and then continuing the journey next week. That is our All-Team summed up for you; I hope you enjoyed the read!
About Hanno Renner
Hanno Renner is co-founder and CEO of Personio, the all-in-one HR software for SMEs. After his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, Hanno did his master’s in Munich, Auckland, and New York. Since 2015, he and his team have been helping small and medium-sized businesses across Europe unlock their potential by digitizing and automating HR processes.
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