The Benefits Of Employee One-On-Ones And 3 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Them
Companies are struggling to find a balance between automation and a human-centric approach to their employee experience. Automating processes can save time and money but if not used thoughtfully can negatively impact retention, productivity and employee engagement.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money and founder of Real Life E Time Coaching & Training states employee “one-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager.” Applications such as 15Five make it easy to automate check-ins and elicit feedback from employees on a weekly basis. Managers tend to fail when they rely solely on these platforms without scheduling face-to-face meetings with their employees.
When it comes to the development of employees, the human element can never fully be replaced. Face-to-face meetings allow managers to ask probing questions, sense body language and gauge responses while creating a personalized touch showing the employee their feedback, concerns and growth are valued.
When conducted properly, they’re a valuable way to build trust with employees. For new hires, they help establish a relationship with their manager and gain a deeper understanding of how the business operates, receive guidance on their career goals and questions. For tenured employees, this helps train them on how to get what they need from their manager and team.
Create a Flow that Prioritizes the Employee’s Needs
Most employees dread one-on-one meetings with their manager because they believe it to be equivalent to a report card on their performance or an opportunity for their manager to increase their workload. Managers can reduce these fears by collaborating with the employee to set a clear agenda of what they wish to cover during their meeting. This gives the employee the opportunity to revise as needed giving them dedicated meeting time to air their thoughts and concerns. Employees should be encouraged to prepare for these meetings ahead of time so they don’t risk forgetting important discussion points.
James Meincke, Senior Marketing Manager at recommends establishing separate meetings for performance evaluations and using the one-on-ones to focus on development. Meincke has experienced great success by keeping the meetings casual with open-ended questions such as “tell me how things are going?”, “how can I support you on this project?”, “where are you currently struggling at the moment?” and letting the conversation unfold organically.
Founder and CEO of Spoonfed Motivation, Cherita Weatherspoon, prioritizes employees’ agenda first to ensure they have the opportunity to get through their discussion points. Otherwise, they’d have to schedule another meeting or would feel too discouraged to address their points in the future. As an executive leader, Weatherspoon has found how to get the most from her one-on-ones with her employees.
She starts by spending a few minutes asking how they’re doing and acknowledging significant events in their personal life that could impact their professional life. She then transitions into giving the employee a platform to brag about their progress and goal achievements. Next, she leads into general updates on projects they’re working on and challenges or concerns they have.
Once those points have been addressed, Weatherspoon shifts the conversation into future goals, identifying any challenges and creating actionable steps to overcome them. She ends the discussion by wrapping up with anything additional that wasn’t mentioned and establishing their next point of contact, whether through informal check-ins throughout the week or setting up their next one-on-one.
Lead with Strengths and Weave in Opportunities
The greatest mistake people make when leading conversations is immediately putting employees on the defensive by starting with the negatives. When people go on the defensive they block out everything else immediately following the criticism even if the remainder is praise.
Managers can prevent putting employees on the defensive by highlighting recent contributions, achievements and successes. Focusing on what is working helps to make them feel good about the work they’re doing and eager to tackle their weaknesses. Whereas, if a manager starts off with their failures and struggles, it knocks them down making it almost impossible to pick them back up and motivate them again.
As the new generations drive the workforce, managers must find ways to keep motivation and engagement high through a strategic delivery of strengths, personal development and areas of improvement. Tomer Yogev of TandemSpring says managers can coach employees to become high performers by helping them focus on doing more of what works while leveraging their strengths to improve their weaknesses.
Develop a Two-Way Communication Loop
Brian Zotti of Trilogy Education Services, Inc., invites managers to make the one-on-one a two-way street where they ask for feedback from the employee on how they can be more effective to them as a manager. The key is being open and acknowledging the feedback, making a commitment to putting the pieces in action that make sense and following up with the employee to gain perspective on the impact it’s made.
Establish actionable steps moving forward and make sure everyone involved has a thorough understanding of their expectations. Sending a recap email as a reminder after the meeting is an effective way to keep tasks at the top of mind. This provides a paper trail of progress on both ends and an easy reference point for evaluations. Managers should take the lead in following up with the employee between one-on-ones to check-in, offer support and clear up any misunderstandings.
The role of a manager is to provide coaching to improve employee performance and help guide them to achieve professional goals and milestones. The benefit of in-person one-on-ones is the ability to ask clarifying and more personalized questions and making sure all of their points are addressed. A successful one-on-one gives actionable steps in a continuous effort to develop the employee to their highest potential. Everyone walks away feeling positive about their responsibilities with the confidence they’re on the same page in achieving their goals together.
Originally published by Heidi Lynne Kurter at https://www.forbes.com.