Dan McCarthy always has good things to say but this article I thought was exceptional on 1 on 1’s.  Here is the list he had on there:

1. Schedule them out for 6-12 months, either weekly or bi-weekly, for about an hour each. Don’t wait for them to happen, because they won’t. Make it your employee’s responsibility to schedule them, but set the expectation and hold them accountable. It’s not an option.
2. Don’t cancel them. Yes, things come up – so reschedule if needed. If you’re always canceling them, you’re sending the message that they aren’t important.
3. Shut your door, don’t answer your phone, turn your cell phone off, and give 100% attention. If you don’t have an office, then use a conference room or other distraction free area.
4. Always let your employees go first. Clear their agenda first – it’s their time. Then cover any items on your list.
5. Make sure you don’t just discuss performance goals, metrics, quotas, or project updates. Save time to also talk about their development, job satisfaction, and yes, even a little time to get to know your employees as people.
6. At least once a year, set aside an entire meeting to have a career and development discussion. Review individual development plans on a quarterly basis.
7. You don’t need to follow the same rigid structure for every one of your employees. Tailor meetings to the needs and style of each employee. Some may prefer informal with no agenda – others may prefer agendas and formality. It doesn’t matter what you prefer- 1 on 1 are all about them, not you.
8. Like many of you, I’ve learned a lot about effective and ineffective leaders from my own managers. One manager gave me this piece of wise advice I’ll never forget: “How do you measure the effectiveness of your 1 on 1s? Take a look at your employees when the meeting is over. Are they leaving energized, enthusiastic, and motivated? Are they smiling? Or are their shoulders sagging, eyes glazed, and dragging themselves out of your office? That’s your scorecard as a leader.”
9. Kind of a follow-up to #8; don’t make your 1 on 1s feel like a complete physical exam (with prostrate check) to your employees. They shouldn’t be interrogations under a bright light.
10. Don’t accumulate a to-do list for each employee, and then use 1 on1s to unload your list. There’s nothing like leaving a meeting with a two pages of action items and wondering how you’re going to fit all the extra work into your week.
11. Be a barrier remover, not a gatekeeper. When an employee comes up with an idea, don’t shoot it full of holes (another fine “coachable moment”, right?), add so many of your own ideas to the idea that it’s no longer your employee’s, it yours; or add extra steps so that it takes longer to implement. Think about that last one… I just learned this recently, and it’s challenging. Instead of adding steps to your employee’s ideas, challenge yourself as a leader to remove steps, or barriers, so that the employee can implement the idea even faster.
12. Save some time to just talk. It’s OK to spend a few moments just asking what’s new, how’s life, how’s the family, etc….
13. Ask for feedback, opinions, input to important decisions, and advice.
14. Always try to end on a positive note – let your employee know how well they are doing (if it’s genuine); and how much you appreciate their efforts.

This was a great and comprehensive list that I am for sure going to use in my reviews with people.  The main thing I got from all of these was that you need to do more listening and evaluating of what they are saying.  Stop always trying to talk and get your agenda across.  Listen and help them achieve their goals.

Advertisements