The World of Work Project

Ask Me Anything Sessions

Ask Me Anything sessions are face to face or virtual meetings in which leaders open the floor to any questions that individuals in their team would like to ask. These sessions often focus more on personal questions than work related questions, and are often used to help teams get to know their leaders connect with them more on a personal level.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Ask Me Anything Sessions

In large organizations leaders often find it difficult to build personal relationships with individuals in their teams, particularly once their team size starts to get above about 100-150 people (See Dunbar’s Number).

Ask me anything sessions (AMAs) are one way that leaders may seek to overcome this challenge, demonstrate their humanity and create an opportunity for their teams to get to know them. As well as being used to help teams get to know their leaders, AMAs can be used to communicate about specific topics, e.g. “AMA about the new IT system we’re implementing”.

The sessions work exactly as their name suggests. In them, leaders usually start by introducing themselves or their specific topic and saying a little bit about who they are as a person, before opening the floor to questions which, as the name suggests, can be about anything at all.

AMAs usually last 30 to 60 minutes and can be live as part of away-days or town-hall sessions, virtual over videoconferencing, audio only on conference calls or even completed using webchat tools.

You could hold an AMA virtually with an entire leadership team.

“Tell me anything” sessions are an interesting variant of AMAs in which leaders listen to whatever a small group would like to share with them. These “tell me anything” sessions are powerful ways for leaders to gain an insight into specific aspects of their business, or the views of specific groups within their organizations. Tell me anything sessions are particularly helpful ways for leaders to learn about the challenges faced by the members of their minority groups.

The World of Work Project View

AMAs can be very effective ways to communicate and to build a more personal relationship with a large team. They’re easy to run (provided you understand the technology you plan to use), reach many people at the same time, can be recorded or transcribed and circulated and can be a highly engaging way to connect with a team.

Leaders, however, can be somewhat scared of them and may not see the point of them. They may find it hard to reveal their personality to the team, they may not think they have anything to say, they might feel no one is interested in them as a person and they almost certainly will be concerned about difficult questions.

Depending on a leaders confidence, charisma and agreeableness, it may be worth helping them prepare in advance for AMAs and using a facilitator for the session. It’s also usually a good idea to request some questions in advance so that if the session starts slowly, you have questions to fall back on.

Overall we think AMA sessions are helpful and should be used more. They are a burden on leadership time, but we believe they are worth it.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on our experiences in the world of work. There are no specific references for it.

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