Ensuring regular 1-on-1s with each of your direct reports is paramount if you wish to change the culture and increase the team’s productivity. However, it’s not enough. Getting the best from these meetings are the most crucial factor if you want to have happy, productive staff.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Schedule Monthly 1-on-1s for the next 3-plus months.
A monthly rhythm is usually best, but in certain situations, you may need to increase that to two per month. Ideally the same time each month will allow a habit to form.
2. Block off at least 60 minutes.
Early on in the process, these meetings may take longer, as the staff will need to know the process and also they may have lots of issues they haven’t spoken about for a while, building up inside their minds.
3. Never cancel.
If your staff being pleasant and developing is something that you are passionate about please don’t cancel or it means that you put other things in the business before them. If something urgent comes up, reschedule the 1-on-1 for another time that same day.
4. Hold 1-on-1s in a comfortable environment.
Steer clear of open offices with through traffic; we want the member of staff to feel like they can tell us anything, this won’t be the case if their fellow team are listening in.
5. Ask your report to bring a list of things to talk about.
Get them to pre-populate the three good and the three bad (carry on and consider), How they have affected their KPI’s.
6. Start the meeting by taking the person’s temperature.
Showing you care is essential to building trust and rapport, don’t just pile drive into the KPI’s to get through this, this is their meeting so keep it on track but let them tell you any concerns, worries etc. from personal life as well as the working environment
7. Draw out issues.
This is particularly important for introverted or quieter team members. Ask open-ended questions, and don’t be afraid to try waiting out uncomfortable silences. Some people will start talking once they realise that you’re not going to fill the void. You can also try rephrasing the same question in multiple ways, or using follow-ups to terse answers (e.g., “Could you say more about that?” ). However, be careful not to come across as if you’re interrogating the person. A warm, encouraging tone and positive body language will help.
Here are some prompts that might help get things rolling:
“Tell me about some of the challenges you’ve faced this Month.” “What can I do to help with your work? Your career in general?” “What are you most concerned about?”
“What’s your No. 1 problem right now? Why?”
“What’s the biggest opportunity we’re missing out on?” “What are we not doing that we should be doing?” “Are you happy working here?”
“What suggestions do you have?”
“What have you learned this past week?”
8. Provide coaching.
Once you’ve identified an issue, try the GROW coaching model to help your report find a solution, rather than solving the problem yourself this, in turn, will increase productivity. This will help the person learn how to solve problems autonomously. To use the GROW model, ask questions that help the coachee establish a goal, explore the situation, generate a set of options and finally plan the way forward. Another good tool to use is the Skill and Will Quadrant – see here for more information
9. Ask for feedback.
Every few 1-on-1s, ask for direct feedback for yourself as a manager. This will help you improve your relationship with your reports, as well as your skills as their leader. It’s usually best to give the person time to prepare, especially given the power dynamics in manager-employee relationships.
“I’m looking for ways to sharpen my skills and could use your help. Next week, would you be willing to share some feedback on one to two things that I could do better as your manager?”
10. Give feedback.
A 1-on-1 can be an excellent time to give helpful reinforcing or redirecting feedback if it doesn’t dominate the meeting and take away from other discussions. Otherwise, it may be better to provide the input separately. In either case, use the standard feedback model by describing the specific behaviour and impact, listening carefully to the response, working toward shared expectations and creating a plan to get there.
11. Discuss career development.
Spend 10 minutes in each 1-on-1 talking about career development. Ask your direct report to assess the previous week. What worked? What didn’t? Also help your team member pick one skill or topic to focus on during the coming week, along with activities he or she can do to improve. At least once a month talk about long-term development goals. Here are a few questions you can try:
“What steps do you think you could take to reach the goals you’ve mentioned?” “How is your recent work helping or hurting your professional development?”
12. Take notes and follow up.
1-on-1s are rarely useful if you don’t follow up on the topics, goals and actions that you discuss. Draft a quick summary of what was discussed and agreed upon during your 1-on-1 and send it by email. Also, always follow up on any commitments you make. Your team will be watching to see if you honour your word.
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