The coronavirus pandemic has turned how businesses work on their head. Work from home is no longer a privilege; it has become a necessity.
Entire teams are having to swiftly transition to remote work to ensure operations are not disrupted.
Companies may not even be fully prepared to support such a change.
This has brought along several challenges, most notably the issue of maintaining productivity in these uncertain times and helping people overcome fears of getting infected and being quarantined.
While regular remote workers may find it easier to adjust to this new way of working, people who are suddenly forced to work from home are likely to find the change quite tough.
We understand that many people, who were hitherto used to walking up to their co-worker for a chat, will feel that these challenges are insurmountable.
The prevailing atmosphere of panic and anxiety is psychologically draining.
This is where you, as a manager, can support your direct reports by connecting with them through regular and frequent one on one meetings.
How can one on one meetings help?
Your direct reports need to know that you have their back in these difficult times.
They need to hear from you – and hear from you often – to feel secure and supported in all this turmoil.
The biggest challenges that direct reports face are reduced productivity, communication issues, difficulty in collaboration, choosing the right tools to stay connected, staying motivated amid the pervasive fear of falling sick, dealing with the sudden digital isolation, and the lack of infrastructure to work from home effectively.
Don’t let a lack of preparedness hamper your team’s productivity.
You can boost their morale with the most potent weapon in your possession–the one on one meeting.
Benefits of one on one meetings for remote teams
Under normal circumstances, remote teams benefit from one on one meetings in five significant ways:
- Boosts employee productivity and engagement
- Helps the manager individualize their guidance to the direct report
- Enables an exchange of feedback between manager and his direct report
- Keeps managers informed about what is happening in the team
- Strengthens the relationship between manager and his direct report
Your direct reports will look forward to one on one meetings to be reassured of your continued guidance and support in these tumultuous times.
Being empathetic and human is a sign of good leadership and most important during challenging situations.
Your direct reports rely on you to lead from the front and model the behavior that will help them tide over the crisis.
Author of ‘Radical Candor’, Kim Scott sums this up by saying,
The essence of leadership is not getting overwhelmed by circumstances.
In a traumatic and unprecedented pandemic situation, like the one we are facing today, one on one meetings become even more important because they enable you to take care of the mental and emotional wellness of your team.
Hence, we decided to list some of the psychological benefits that one on one meetings can offer in these testing times.
1 Psychological safety
A one on one meeting is a psychologically safe space where your direct report can open up to you about her worries and anxieties without fear of ridicule or rejection.
Google’s Project Oxygen revealed 10 behaviors that make a good manager.
One of them is “Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being,” which is based on research on psychological safety.
Thus, having honest, two-way conversations will result in better performing and more engaged teams.
Ben Horowitz, American investor, advises us to:
take care of the people, the products, and the profits–in that order.
And it begins with letting them know you care, and what better way to do that than a one on one meeting!
2Helps understand non-verbal cues
The biggest casualty in emails, chats, or phone calls is context.
You miss important non-verbal cues which can provide insight into things that your direct report is NOT saying.
Each person is different — some people are talkative about certain aspects of their work, whereas others may be diffident or feel intimidated.
They may feel that talking about their daily personal struggles during crisis situations is inappropriate.
- Ask them how you can help them perform to the best of their ability.
- Find out what are the blockers to their productivity and figure out solutions.
Kim Scott believes that upwards of 90% of communication is non-verbal so if you don’t see the person you’re talking to, you won’t know if he has understood what you’re saying.
Thus, choose video conferencing when you have a one on one meeting with your direct reports because it is vital that you look at each other to keep the human connection on.
3Enables you to empathize and offer support
To inspire your direct reports to survive through tough times, you should actively listen to them and empathize with their struggles.
Active interaction and attention is essential to strengthen your relationship with them.
During your one on one meeting, you can offer each person guidance and solutions depending on their needs and abilities.
Everybody likes to be heard, so the most important thing for you to do is to listen to your direct report’s concerns.
Instead of being a stoic leader who acts more than he speaks, invest in storytelling and non-stop honest communication.
4Helps you mitigate fears about health and safety
No doubt, your direct reports are worried about the increasing number of infected cases due to novel coronavirus.
Their minds are understandably on the health of their families and elderly parents.
You can position yourself as a confidant by projecting an optimistic outlook and being as patient as possible.
The one on one meeting is your opportunity to let your direct report know that you stand with her since everyone is going through the same problems.
In this way, you can reduce her concerns for the future.
Don’t ignore or deny signs of anxiety; instead, initiate candid conversations to dispel anxieties and worries.
5Lets your direct reports know you care
A manager doesn’t exist simply to assign work, track productivity, and give feedback.
One of your key tasks is to build trust with your direct reports.
And you can do it by first showing that you care for them beyond the work they do, just like your own people.
During your one on one meetings, commit to what you can reasonably deliver and follow up on your commitments.
If you communicate sincerely and listen well, you can lessen the negativity and fear in people.
Kim Scott mentions that:
Probably the most important thing you can do to build trust is to spend a little time alone with each of your direct reports on a regular basis
If you’re struggling to find the right words to express yourself, here’s an exhaustive list of questions to ask during one on one meetings.
6Helps you reconnect and realign your direct report with the company’s values
Communication or even over-communication will hold you in good stead with your direct reports during these times.
While you must attempt to be reassuring at all times, you should also be transparent and realistic about business needs and the future.
Demonstrating your resilience during one on one meetings will hold negative attitudes at bay, which is a natural reaction to trying times.
Enforce realistic positivity during your one on one conversations so that you can keep your direct report aligned with the company’s goals.
What you should know about remote one on one meetings?
Here are a few points to keep in mind before you start conducting regular one on one meetings with your direct reports, who are now working from home and making the effort to transition to remote work, amid the global health crisis the world is facing.
You can also learn about easy-to-use tools to make your remote one on one meetings impactful and steps to have effective remote one on one meetings.
1 Start one on one meetings now!
If you haven’t been having one on one meetings so far, now is definitely the time to begin.
This is the most effective way for you to communicate individually with your direct reports, understand their motivations and challenges, and tailor your coaching style as per each direct report’s need to help them put their best foot forward.
We recommend using a one on one meeting software for most effective results.
Effective One on One Meetings
We built a software that automatically schedules, lets you set agenda, take notes, exchange feedback and track actions – all in one place.
2More frequent one on one meetings
Now is also the time to schedule your one on one meetings more frequently. Usually, a biweekly cadence serves to stay on top of things.
However, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, so weekly one on one meetings – at least initially – will help bring a sense of normalcy and establish focus.
3Longer one on one meetings
It may also help to have longer discussions, especially with direct reports who need human contact to stay grounded and perform their jobs well.
You would do well to chalk some time out to socialize with your direct report and talk about her personal life and other topics outside of work to help her feel connected with you and the team.
- Instead of the average half hour one on one meetings, endeavor to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour for each person.
- If you feel that someone needs more assistance, it is okay to have longer meetings.
4Each one on one meeting is different
Most importantly, tailor your communication to each person’s needs.
Some people will need more time to come to terms with the altered way of working and more hand-holding than others.
By empathizing with your direct reports, you calm their anxieties and enable them to stay engaged with work.
Once a status quo has been achieved, you can consider dialing back on the frequency and duration of the one on one meetings.
A worldwide crisis situation has not only changed the way we work, but has also enabled us to gather insights into different ways in which businesses can function.
Going remote may well be the future of work. In that eventuality, we must be prepared to support our teams and equip them in the best manner possible.