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What We Have Here Is No Failure to Communicate

Meeting I Never Miss

M.I.N.M.: All-Hands Meeting

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Who: Gally Bar-on, chief of staff, StarMedia Network Inc.; president, StarMedia Foundation

Email: gally.bar-on@starmedia.net

Players: All 750 employees

Frequency: At least once every quarter; more often if needed

Why I Never Miss It: “CEO Fernando Espuelas will set a goal at one meeting, and by the time the next one rolls around, we’ve made tremendous progress.”

For global companies like StarMedia Network, one of the world’s leading Internet portals for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking netizens, delivering timely and consistent messages to far-flung employees — while recognizing cultural and language differences — is a challenge. With 750 staffers in 14 offices scattered throughout 11 countries, StarMedia, headquartered in New York, knows that it can’t risk a communications babel. Its solution? A multilingual “all-hands” Webcast.

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Conducted in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, these virtual gatherings take place on the company’s intranet and are designed to communicate important news, strategic goals, and quarterly reports to all employees simultaneously. According to chief of staff Gally Bar-on, 32, who helps coordinate the meetings, “It would probably be easier to slice and dice information for different groups. But the best way to ensure a smooth execution of the company vision is to make sure that we all hear the same thing at the same time.”

The all-hands Webcast also leverages something that is universal: star power. In this case, the star is Fernando Espuelas, 33, StarMedia’s charismatic founder and CEO. Says Bar-on of Espuelas’s draw: “Genuine enthusiasm and charisma don’t need any translation.”

Guiding Principle

Talk the talk. “Our overriding goal is to communicate clearly across language barriers and geographic boundaries. By connecting with all of our offices — and by addressing everyone in three languages — we’re able to unite our employees around one company vision.”

Best Practice

Star power. “The one thing that we hear consistently from our employees is, ‘We want more Fernando.’ They want to know what he’s thinking. This meeting allows him to communicate his vision.”

Talking Stick

Unscripted and informal. “But each meeting has a clear goal — to deliver quarterly results, to announce a major initiative or partnership, to clarify our strategic vision. Whenever possible, Fernando and other executives make their comments trilingually. That sometimes generates good-natured teasing about accents, but our employees really appreciate the effort. To make certain that nothing is lost in the translations, someone from each office recaps the entire announcement in that country’s native tongue. Then we follow up with an online chat, during which the management team fields questions from employees.”

Setting

“Typically, everyone gathers in large conference rooms that are equipped with speakers and several computer monitors.”