When we at Peoplebox started building software to empower managers, we gave priority to one on one’s. The main aim of the one on one meeting software we created is to help managers get the best out of their team, and the purpose of a one-on-one meeting is exactly the same.
To help your teams excel and give in their best, you certainly would want to know what your direct reports want.
The end goal of every management practice is to achieve better organizational efficiency. The only way to achieve this is by driving your workforce in the right direction.
But, you cannot direct somebody unless you know what motivates them (or puts them off, for that matter). Managing a team of people who come from various backgrounds and mindsets is a challenging task.
So, is there any tool that can make it easier? Well you guessed it right – one on one meeting. As the author of ‘High Output Management’ Ben Horowitz puts it,
“Ninety minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for two weeks, or for some eighty-plus hours.”
Let us tell you why you should be giving your one on ones more importance.
Why do you need one on one meetings?
1. Building great relationships
You would agree that you’re more likely to work better for someone you admire and trust. Developing mutual trust and belief takes time and a lot of interaction.
Regular 1 on 1’s give you a chance to interact and build a strong relationship with your team. A research by Gallup suggests that employees who meet regularly with their managers are three times more engaged.
“Communication is often the basis of any healthy relationship, including the one between an employee and his or her manager.”
Your undivided attention and time can help a direct report feel more connected. When you’re particular about their one on one’s, they know that their performance matters.
This feeling of accountability is the first step towards a fruitful relationship. When they make mistakes, they know that they can turn to you. And when they need your support to grow, they know they can rely on you to coach them.
An engaged employee is always more productive and an approachable manager is more successful than an uptight one.
You can only strike this balance by regular communication and periodic check-ins. Building relationships takes time, commitment and genuine interest in each other’s issues.
One on one meetings give you a breather during a busy week to touch-base with your direct reports. This is your time to speak to them about their challenges and achievements.
So, give yourself a break from number-crunching and call that new joinee for a talk. Sometimes, relationships help in garnering better results than developing strategies.
2. Understanding blockers
Let us imagine there’s a new manager named Sally, who has joined a new organization. Her initial days are pleasant and she is hopeful about future projects.
But as the project starts, she notices her direct reports resist her suggestions. While they seem to understand the plan, the actions always go haywire.
Now, if you were in Sally’s position, what would you do? What do you think should be her next step?
This is a very common situation a manager may face sooner or later. Resistance to change is a common behavior in a team who was used to a particular management style.
Your job is to understand what’s stopping them from performing and following plans and remove any blockers in the path of your team’s success.
Blockers may be in the form of challenges the team is facing or could even related to team dynamics.
A one on one meeting provides an opportunity to have a no-holds-barred discussion with your direct reports.
“Until you make the effort to get to know someone or something, you don’t know anything.” – Ben Horowitz
One on one meetings help in understanding the root cause of problems and also find solutions. They are a tool that can help you build your team and gain their confidence.
With effective one-on-one meetings, you can understand AND overcome the blockers.
3. Gauging the level of employee engagement
Employee engagement is among top priorities of almost every organization. Your team’s performance depends upon how connected the employees feel with the firm.
Do they feel valued, nurtured and at home? Do they believe that their role makes a difference in the organization?
Your employees’ engagement level lies in the answer to these questions. And, a feedback meeting every quarter can’t help you in getting these answers.
The more time you spend understanding your employees, more they feel connected to you and the organization. One on one meetings allow you an opportunity to keep yourself updated with your direct reports’ behavior and engagement level.
One on one meetings provide a safe psychological space to you and your direct report, where you can express your gratitude, ask them difficult questions and clear looming doubts either of you might have.
A research by Harvard Business Review suggests that,
the direct reports are likely to ask for help if their managers engage more often.
Regular one-on-one’s help in eliminating barriers and make you approachable. In fact, one-on-ones are also a great way to understand if your team is well-aligned with organizational goals.
4. Coaching the employees
Project Oxygen by Google listed eight essential qualities of a great manager, out of which one was ‘be a coach’. And one of the traits of a great coach as defined by Google is ‘tailoring approaches to meet individual communication styles in regular one-on-one meetings’.
One on one’s provide you an opportunity to mentor every direct report individually and help them grow. You can guide them in the right direction and help them overcome their weaknesses.
You can understand in your 1-on-1 meetings what works best for whom and tailor your advice for each of them. According to a research, better coaches have three times as many people who are willing to put an extra effort.
And as goes the saying, “people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses”, people stick to great manager and not their companies. What distinguishes you as a great manager is your capability to understand the strengths & weaknesses of your direct reports and harness them in the right direction.
5. Find out the secret to your team’s success
“One way to know if you’re exhibiting service leadership is if the people under you are growing and developing”
– Russ Larway, Co-founder of Candor Inc
One-on-one’s are as important for your growth as they are for your direct reports. You cannot grow as a manager unless you can drive people to achieve their best at their job.
A good manager is known for the abilities her direct reports exhibit. But, how do you know if you’re doing a good job at motivating them? How do you find out if you are playing your part in their success?
This is where one-on-one’s come in. When you meet your direct reports for a 1-on-1 next time, ask them the right questions to know how you can support them in achieving their individual goals.
During a one on one, an employee feels relaxed and is likely to share her issues openly and in detail. Knowing that you care about their success and are willing to support them in any way possible, motivates them to give in their best.
You can use the one on one’s to let your direct reports know that their success matters to you and the organization. A motivated employee is always more successful; and, a successful employee is an asset.
6. Discuss career growth
Career growth is an important aspect of one’s growth chart in a company, but these discussions are often sidelines as the employee settles into the role. A study conducted by the Right Management suggested that only 16% of the employees have them regularly!
The same report also revealed that 82% of the employees feel they would be more engaged in the work if career conversation took place. And, a whopping 76% admitted that they would even stop looking for other jobs!
An employee should not be expected to wait until annual reviews to have a discussion as crucial as career growth in the organization and otherwise. And hence, a one on one meeting is the best platform for career-related discussions.
A common mistake managers make in 1-on-1 meetings is to limit career conversation to promotions, increment and such routine details. The truth is that career growth discussions go way beyond this.
Don’t limit these discussion to organizational hierarchy. Talk about their strength, lifelong aspirations, and their vision for the future. To channel the conversation in the right direction, you can ask ‘career growth & development’ questions from the comprehensive list of more than 500 1-on-1 meeting questions.
One-on-one’s give you a perfect opportunity to dig deeper into the psyche of your direct report and help them shape their dream career. You don’t have to promise them a promotion but a bit of genuine advice on the professional front will certainly boost their morale.
7. Exchanging Feedback
As a manager, all your energies work towards making your direct reports achieve their best and thrive in their position. As per research, one of the best ways to help employees grow is by providing them with feedback.
One of the reasons why one-on-ones are essential is because they give you a perfect window to exchange honest feedback. Positive feedback can motivate the direct reports and negative feedback can bring them back on track.
All of us have been at the receiving end of professional feedback and have always wanted to discuss more about it. In today’s age, one-on-ones encourage managers to discuss elaborately on what makes a direct-report tick and what does not.
In a one-on-one meeting, you can take your time to discuss a direct report’s strength and suggest ways to capitalize on it. Similarly, you can also explain to them their drawback and the action plan to overcome it.
In fact, you can always encourage them to provide you with feedback on your leadership in a 1-on-1. This 360-degree approach of exchanging feedback will help your team grow exponentially.
The most precious resource you have is your own time and energy, and when you spend it on your team, it goes a long way toward building healthy relationships. This is why one-on-one meetings are such an important part of management.”- Julie Zhuo, VP Product Design, Facebook
Modern workplaces are about fostering relationships and facilitating growth. We can no longer function on a singular agenda. Every direct report is unique with a unique set of abilities.
A one on one meeting helps in combining these varied, but equally powerful, vibes to drive the purpose of an organization. If we had to put it in layman’s terms, one-on-one’s help in working together as a team while enabling each other to give in their best.
Want to become a better manager?
Start with great 1-on-1s to build high performing teams.