Leadership requires us to invest in our people – communicate things to them, teach them, facilitate their success, etc. One of the best ways that I’ve found to do this in a formal way is through my one-on-one meetings. There are some structural things that help me to maximize the value of these one-on-ones for me:
- Meet regularly – for some employees, this is weekly…for others it is bi-weekly or even once a month. But, they need to be scheduled regularly and predictably. In other words, if they’re weekly, plan them at the same time and on the same day each week. The frequency of the one-on-ones should be based on performance (if the employee is doing an excellent job, the meeting may need to be less frequent) and scope of work (if an employee does a complex job that brings new things each week it might make sense to meet weekly – if an employee repeats tasks each week, it may make sense to meet only once a month).
- Make it personal – one-on-ones are a great time to ask your employee(s) how they’re doing. In fact, I try to make this the first thing we talk about. If the meetings are only about work, then we miss a great opportunity to get to know our employees better and to find out if there are outside pressures that may impact their jobs. Plus, it lets the employee know that you care about them and they’re not just a worker, but someone that you value.
- Start with them – I always allow the employee to start with agenda items that they have come to the meeting with. It seems somewhat counterintuitive because we often want to make sure that our agenda items get covered first…but I’ve found that this puts the employee in the driver seat and allows them to set the tone. Often, they will cover many of the things that I intended to cover any way. This is another way to help them understand that they are important and what concerns/ideas/questions they have are of first priority to you.
- Write it down – I use a software called Wunderlist as my shared to-do list with each of my employees. This allows me to add things as I see them and then review them with the employee as we meet during these one-on-ones. It is also the system that I add to as we discuss things and recognize things that need to be done. This will help you to get the meeting started well and help you feel confident that goals will be accomplished.
- Follow up – I’ve heard it said that you have to inspect what you expect. If you assign a task, you should follow up to make sure that it gets done. For some employees, this means simply checking the shared to-do list to see that it’s done. For others, this means physically going and checking in on the items to ensure its completion. But, regardless you must use these one-on-ones as a time to follow up on previous tasks and items.
- Get on the same page – as things are added to a to-do list or tasks are shared over email or text, it can be difficult for an employee to see things as you see them or to fully align with your vision for the organization. One-on-ones are times to take a walk to a place in the building so you can share vision, or time for you to pull up a website and show them what it is your expecting out of a project, etc. Use it as a time for the two of you to get on the same page – vision, tasks, purpose, outcomes, etc.
The more that you’re able to invest in your people in these ways, the better relationship you will have and the more productive your team will be!
Do you hold regular one-on-ones with your team? How are they structured? If you don’t, is this something that you could see yourself implementing? Comment below…