Take care of both the practical and personal side of every 1-to-1!
It’s a golden rule every new manager learns early on: Make time for your direct reports, 1-to-1, every week or so. It is the manager’s responsibility to ensure they happen, and it’s their obligation to keep them fresh and informally formal. Think of every interaction as having two sides, the practical and the personal. On the practical side, you and your colleague need to decide and mutually understand who is doing what by when. But nothing will ever get done well unless you, as the leader, take care of the personal side.
To achieve your objectives on the practical side of a 1-to-1 requires you to plan the interaction, however loosely, and have a clear agenda, if only in your mind. To help the interaction go smoothly, managers need to build 5 key skills on the personal side.
Compliment people on their achievements, their efforts, contributions, and ideas. If you can’t bring yourself to praise somebody, be sure to maintain their self-esteem as a minimum.
2. Empathic listening:
This shows the other person that you have genuinely heard and understood what they have said to you with phrases such as “So what you are saying is…” or “OK, let me see if I’ve got this right…”
3. Encourage engagement:
This is the art of asking open questions and waiting out the entire answer before going to key skill 2 above. “How do you feel about that?” Or “What ideas do you have in this situation?”
4. Share experience:
Build trust by telling others what YOU think, what YOU feel, and your reasons behind your actions. By opening up yourself, you encourage others to do the same.
“So what do you need from me?” is one of the most motivational questions a leader can ask. But it only works if you follow up on all promises.
Having regular 1-to-1 interactions is working very well for several PBC clients. Some report that they are better connected now than before the home quarantine. Several clients do daily huddles to keep whole teams up to date and to resolve capacity and resource allocation issues in real-time. Most also have weekly continuity meetings to plan the deliverables for the next week as well as sharing their individual scorecards.
We have one client who has tried our idea to randomly assign 3 people to “coffee breaks” on Zoom, every day at 3:00. It’s “Three at Three for 15 minutes.” The randomness aims to mimic the coincidental interactions people have in the “old-normal” work environment. The rule is to focus on the personal side by prioritizing our need to talk about ourselves and our families, over the practical work side.
For support and advice on your 1-to-1s or any other business issue, call PBC today for a free consultation. We’re only too glad to help.
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