1. What are Toolbox Meetings?
A few supervisors and managers have been holding successful toolbox meetings for many years, but now the secret is out. The reality is that they are easy to run and do produce very good results on a regular basis.
How do Toolbox Meetings work?
The supervisor merely sits down somewhere at work (perhaps on the toolbox, hence the name) and talks over work related issues with his or her employees. This also allows workers to tell the supervisor what is really going on with the job, resulting in a two-way communication flow. This is an informal process and therefore has advantages over more formal meetings where people often feel uncomfortable or don’t think the meeting has much to do with them.
Research shows that business performance increases significantly when people are engaged so it is important to find effective ways to pass on information to employees and receive information back from staff – and toolbox meetings can be the answer.
2. Why are Toolbox Meetings so Important?
- Toolbox meetings allow for two things which are quite critical to successful business operations and effective human resource management and employee engagement:
- They are the best way to give employees more information about the business, about what changes are occurring, how they are doing, what is going right, what is going wrong – both at the broader level and most importantly, at the local level. They can help you manage your human resources.
- They are often the best way for management and supervisors to tap into the most precious information which employees have and which they are usually willing to share if only we ask them in the right way. All of us understand that the person doing the job knows just what is going wrong and what can be done to improve things and toolbox meetings can be the way to gather this information. Increased employee engagement leads to better business performance.
- Toolbox meetings are also important because we now have the evidence that employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in. That should be no surprise, but somehow it often is. Employees are interested in information about their jobs, changes that are going on locally, how they are doing, their own prospects for promotion, what training is available and so on. Most importantly, they want to hear about all of this from the person they would like to believe before anyone else – their immediate supervisor.
Employees are interested in what is happening to the business they work in and in information about their jobs
3. The Nuts and Bolts of Toolbox Meetings
Over the years, a lot of supervisors have tried ‘having a meeting’ with their employees and many times these have been quite disastrous. Usually, this has been because the nuts and bolts have not been right. In particular, there are four things which have often gone wrong:
- They have been held in the wrong place at the wrong time.
- The supervisor did not have anything important to say and probably didn’t want to hold the meeting in the first place and that quickly shows.
- The supervisor didn’t know how to run the meeting and it became an embarrassing shambles.
- The employees had been through these sorts of meetings before and thought they were a waste of time. They had offered ideas before but nothing happened, so they figured why bother?
For more on Toolbox meetings and how to tighten those loose nuts and bolts and avoid disastrous or simply ineffective meetings, look out for Running an Effective Toolbox Meeting – Part 2.