Town halls and roundtables give teams a chance to talk to company leaders. Engaging with C-suite executives makes it easier to boost transparency and get some answers to questions you may have. So, it’s super-important to think about which questions to ask executives at town hall meetings.
These questions can cover a lot of ground, like how the company is doing and what its goals are. In most cases, these gatherings involve large groups, and the management may screen the questions. Because of this, you should be tactful with your questions; otherwise, you won’t get a chance to ask them.
The best way to get around the filtering is to focus on ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions that add value to the interactions. I believe that a good question compels your chief executive officer to tell a story or give more detail about a particular process. That way, you get the information you’re looking for.
One of the best things I like about ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions is that they don’t make the impression that you’re being judgmental. On the other hand, ‘why’ questions may appear as if you’re blaming your boss for something and demanding an explanation during a town hall meeting. When you start a question with a ‘why,’ the CEO will most likely become defensive – something you don’t want to see.
By starting your questions with the ‘how’ and ‘what,’ you’ll contribute meaningfully to the conversation at the meeting. Your chief executive officer will more likely provide detailed answers without becoming defensive and evasive. There’s no denying that ‘why’ questions can leave your boss feeling like you’re cornering them or disrespectful.
Common Questions To Ask Your CEO In A Town Hall Meeting:
1. What’s the organization’s biggest challenge?
The major responsibility of any CEO is solving a company’s problems. That said, the chief executive officer needs the entire team’s support to achieve the desired results. Getting your boss to tell you what the biggest challenge is for the company will demonstrate your concern for its future.
Even if your boss doesn’t provide much information about the challenges, you’re sure to make a good impression on how much you care about the company. The best part about asking this question is that it may pave the way for follow-up questions.
It’s no secret, this is one of the most popular questions to ask executives at town hall meetings. It allows you to understand what the C-suite executives are grappling with. Corporate leaders have a different view of challenges than everyone else. And they understand the impact of their decisions on keeping the business on the right track.
Many leaders worry about the company’s turnover since it influences an organization’s ability to recruit and retain skilled talent. If this can’t happen, the organization will find it difficult to operate effectively. In some cases, management may face productivity challenges. Lack of employee motivation can lead to low productivity. Limited innovation is another headache for corporate leaders.
Keeping employees and customers satisfied are key issues that can prove challenging. These tasks or challenges can be tricky to deal with. That said, your CEO will most likely appreciate your concern. It shows you want to help simplify the leadership’s job and boost the company’s growth potential.
The answer to this question may reveal the organization’s weak points. Some of the biggest challenges or weaknesses manifest through things that customers mostly complain about. Getting your boss to talk about them helps find solutions.
2. What do you consider the company’s major strengths?
You can identify your CEO’s priorities by asking this type of question during a town hall meeting. If they view employees as the ultimate driving force behind the company’s operations, that would be your boss’ way of motivating the whole team. In a way, it shows that the CEO understands that it’s impossible for the leadership to achieve operational goals without the employees.
But I think the ideal answer should be something specific about the employees or other business aspects. In your question, try asking the chief executive officer what they think makes the organization stand out.
3. How can I help you achieve your growth targets?
When you want to make a positive contribution, this is one of the questions to CEO during town hall. The good thing about it is that you become central to the discussion. That way, the CEO has to address you individually, giving you a chance to understand your role in the company’s future.
If you regularly interact with the executive officer, their answer could even come across as a performance review. The leader should provide useful tips on how to play a meaningful role in the company’s growth. Depending on how your boss addresses the matter, the answer may shift your perception of the company’s strategic objectives and how you fit in it.
A good CEO understands the need to communicate operational goals with employees. In doing so, it becomes easier for you and your team members to understand what your responsibilities are. So, the growth targets are achievable. On the other hand, the CEO can inform you about the timelines associated with the targets, helping you contribute more effectively. Asking this question also allows the CEO to prepare you for any necessary changes.
The lack of communication about these things can be terrible. Studies show that 60 percent of organizations just don’t have long-term communication strategies.
4. What makes you proud about the organization?
It’d be best to ask this question when you want a more revealing answer from the CEO. Think about it; there are many things that the chief executive officer can be proud of. So, the things they single out can be very telling. A corporate leader can be proud of the innovation, earnings, social responsibility, superior customer care services, employee welfare programs, or market share.
The answer demonstrates the kind of leadership that influences your company’s future. In my view, the ideal response shows that the CEO is always mindful of the company’s overall mission. If the answer doesn’t align with the mission, you may want to ask a follow-up question to get clarity.
5. What do you like doing in your spare time?
Asking a personal question is one way to make the meeting more casual and relaxing for everyone, especially the CEO. In doing so, you humanize the man or woman at the helm. And the occasion is just right for it. At the end of the day, you familiarize yourself with the professional and personal sides of the chief executive officer.
A better understanding of your boss helps foster teamwork and mutual respect. You’ll find it easier to know what your company’s leader expects from you and other team members. On top of that, the insights help improve your relationship with the CEO and to get noticed.
6. What’s the public perception of our company?
If you don’t work directly with customers or have no access to reports covering the topic, you can take advantage of town hall meetings to learn about how the public views your organization. Once you know about the perception, it becomes easier to do your bit to improve things if the reputation is negative. The CEO usually knows how people perceive the company. On the other hand, the CEO will appreciate your interest in customer satisfaction levels.
7. What major projects are coming up?
If you’re unsure about exciting new projects that are coming up, the gathering allows you to ask the chief executive officer about it. You may get some details about the projects if your boss thinks it’s appropriate. And you get the opportunity to ask how you can help make the projects successful if they pertain to your department.
59 Other Impactful Questions To Ask Executives During Town Hall Meetings:
- If you had to select a single quality that you wanted to have in all team members, what would it be and why?
- Has your perception of CEOs changed since you’ve taken on that role?
- Do you think that you’ve mastered your work-life balance? If so, how?
- How do you measure success? Can you provide some examples?
- Are there options for continuing education within the organization?
- If I wanted to take on your role in the future, what should I be learning or doing right now to make it happen?
- Is there anything that occurred during your time as an executive you’d like a chance to do over? If so, what and why?
- Can you suggest books for anyone hoping to take on a leadership role?
- What is your proudest accomplishment of your time in leadership?
- Do you have any mentors or role models that inspired you to get to where you are today?
- What trait would take someone out of the running if you were hiring someone to work alongside you?
- What do you see as optimal motivational methods?
- Are you a risk taker, and if so, what’s the most considerable risk that you’ve taken so far?
- Is deciding to let an employee go difficult? When do you know they’re not the right employee for the organization?
- When considering giving an employee a promotion, what criteria do you have to meet?
- Do you see anything missing from leaders today?
- How does someone in an executive position find ways to grow and evolve as a leader?
- Is there a way for any employee to contribute new concepts and ideas within the company?
- Do you consider there to be a trait in a leader that is harmful or toxic to the company?
- Do you envision new goals that will promote growth in the company?
- Do you have a defined decision-making process in your current role?
- If you had to select the single most important strength within the company, what would it be and why?
- Do you anticipate the implementation of any new technology in the company?
- When you think about where you’ll be 10 years from now, do you envision yourself leading this company or not?
- How do you prioritize your work and responsibilities each day?
- What has your biggest challenge been during your career, and were you able to get around it? If so, how?
- Is feedback welcome about the goings on in the organization? If so, how does one submit it? If not, why is that?
- Do you have a short list of qualities that every leader should have?
- How do you manage the stress and demands of the job?
- Do you see any challenges and opportunities that will emerge in the company over the next several years?
- What is the most rewarding part of a leadership position for you?
- What made you seek a leadership role?
- Do you have any go-to ways to bring a team together to accomplish a common goal?
- Have you witnessed any distinctly different traits or conduct in other leaders? If so, were they ultimately successful?
- What can you do to inspire employees to be creative in a work environment?
- Do you have anything about your leadership role that you wish someone has told you about sooner in your career?
- Does written or verbal communication work best for you?
- How would you go about it if you had to talk about bad or unpleasant news to your team?
- Do you have a true example of how you used your leadership to help a team member or employee to improve their role?
- Are there any ideas, policies, or other ways that you see as outdated that should change soon?
- Has an employee ever disagreed with your instructions, and if so, how was it managed?
- What can be done to prevent high employee turnover in the company?
- Do you have any methods to help resolve employee conflict or disagreements?
- Can you describe a time that you were able to get creative while tackling an unusual situation?
- What suggestions do you have to help keep a team on track throughout a project?
- Have you ever worked a job that you knew you were unqualified for? If so, what was the position, and how do you think you performed?
- Do you enjoy hearing about new, innovative ideas or the process of bringing an idea to life?
- What is the most challenging part of this leadership position for you?
- Can you talk about a time when you could not meet expectations or deadlines? What happened?
- Do you communicate better when addressing a group or in a one-on-one situation?
- How do you see social media concerning both employees and customers?
- Do you see competition within a team as a positive or negative thing?
- What is the best way to earn trust among employees and fellow team members?
- What drew you to want to work in this industry?
- Can you name the top competitors that we have in our industry?
- What are your thoughts on Crypto and its role in business?
- How did COVID affect the company, and do you feel it set you up to be prepared for another pandemic?
- If our company had a disruption of the supply chain, what would you do?
- Have you ever had an employee who inspired you? If so, how?
What do you discuss in a town hall meeting? Additional considerations
As you would expect, CEOs are typically whip-smart individuals. As such, they know how to answer questions tactically or avoid answering them altogether. So, your questions can either attract a detailed answer, an evasive reply, or even make your boss uncomfortable.
Some town hall meeting questions may make you come across as disrespectful or uninterested in the company’s future. If the CEO perceives your question as a sign that you want out of the company, you’ll make the wrong impression. For this reason, I don’t recommend asking anything to do with pay increases, bonuses, and other employee benefits.
These questions demonstrate a limited interest in day-to-day company activities. Instead, it’s prudent to ask questions with a positive angle. That way, you come across as comfortable and committed to the company’s future. It’s also reasonable to focus on career development as a way to boost productivity, efficiency, and overall business growth.
While town hall meetings are interactive and informative, avoid fielding irrelevant or negative questions. You can boost your career prospects by being positive and passionate about the organization’s overall well-being.
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Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.