Whether you are a manager, director, vice president, or CEO of a company, you cannot and should not skip your personal meetings with your direct staff. If you do, you will miss out on a wealth of information and your opportunity to develop motivated employees and the next generation of leaders.
A One-on-One meeting is a way for a manager or team leader to stay connected to a team member and stay aligned with projects and goals. Also, if the team member is struggling to overcome challenges, the manager can assist. It is also an excellent way for the team members to stay connected to their manager to understand their business priorities and decision-making processes. One-on-One sessions are motivational for the employee and important for the supervisor to stay up-to-date.
It all starts with a conversation.
1. The opportunity to speak directly with your employee.
If your only contact with a staff member is on the office floor or in the team meeting, you are missing out on the level of conversation and interaction you need to form a relationship. I am not talking about a deep and meaningful personal relationship; I am talking about a professional relationship with respect for the individual. There are simply topics that cannot and should not be discussed in a multi-person setting.
2. You can connect on a personal level.
Never underestimate the importance of personal connection. You do not need to know what the person ate for breakfast, nor do you want to know how they contracted that sexually transmitted disease; somewhere in between is ideal. Too personal, and everyone thinks you are their best friend; too impersonal, everyone will not feel comfortable with you. Strike the right balance and personal connection, and you can build trust.
Never start a one on one meeting with business, ask them genuinely “how they are and how is the family?” they are human too.
3. Get a feel for the current conflicts within the team.
Talking within a secure environment allows team members to express if they are experiencing harassment or negative political infighting within the team. This can enable you to establish plans to start to eradicate unprofessional behavior in the group.
4. You can get regular updates on their work.
You should ask for an update on their work but allow them to prioritize what they talk about. The question “what would you like to discuss” is open-ended enough to allow them to go through their updates. In your mind or on paper, you should know the critical activities they are working on, so if they have not covered them, ensure to make time at the end of the meeting.
5. You can ask them to take on new challenges.
Rather than force work upon someone in a team meeting, the respectful way is to talk about it one-to-one. You may think a particular employee is the right person with the right skills to take on a new challenge, but they may disagree. They might feel insecure or feel they do not have the right skills, or even think someone else in the team could do a better job.
6. You can ask them to help other struggling team members.
A great way of fostering a winning team is to ask your high achievers to help other team members who are struggling with a task. It is almost like a mini promotion because the person feels like they can help others succeed; it makes them feel needed and is highly motivational.
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7. You can iron out conflict in a private setting.
Not everyone stays happy and motivated all the time. In fact, some people are downright miserable unless everything is going their way. One of the most exceptional people I ever hired is a cantankerous Hungarian from Slovakia. He has a pinpoint intellect and wants to challenge every decision he disagrees with. In fact, that was the reason I hired him; I knew he would test my direction and always provide an alternative view. If I won him over, I knew I was on the right path. Sometimes we agreed to disagree, but if we disagreed strongly, the one-on-one meeting was the place to talk it out and resolve the issue.
8. You get to congratulate them on their successes.
Despite the number of times team members have told me of what they have overcome and the goal they have achieved, it never gets old. I love it. The fact I get to hear it from them personally enables me to congratulate them and enjoy their glow. The additional bonus is that I can mention it in the team meetings and congratulate them in a group setting, which is highly motivating for the employee and the team alike.
9. You can help them through any issues they have.
Almost nobody operates at top performance levels all the time. In fact, some of your best people can struggle with specific issues that they would never discuss in public, but in a one-to-one, it all comes out. I worked with an exceptionally intellectually gifted person at Hewlett Packard. He was so smart that he had to educate me for a couple of months to understand what he was talking about.
His issue was talking in simple terms to simple people (like me and the rest of the planet). After spending so much time with him in one-on-one meetings, I finally started to get what he was saying. This person, let’s call him Stephen, started a movement that led to a transformation in our outsourcing business worth over $300 million in savings, productivity improvement, and innovative thinking. I acted as his translator, his management advocate, and defended him against senior management detractors, and together we changed an organization of over 25,000 people.
10. You can coach them to success.
Some people need to know they are on the right track. The act of coaching is not to tell people what to do and how to do it, but in effect, it is the art of helping people draw their own conclusions and giving them constructive feedback on how to reach that conclusion. If you give people the time and helpful guidance to come to the right conclusion, it feeds their self-confidence. Also, by helping them during the decision-making and problem-solving process, you instill in them your personal and professional values. Always be respectful and help them get to that decision. Learn more about managing remote teams.
If you do it right, they will follow you and be your supporter. Why? Because they know you support them, and you want them to be successful.