A recent survey indicated that more than 50% of employees don’t know what is expected of them, how they are being evaluated, or what types of resources are available to help them succeed.
Private 1:1 sessions with your direct reports can help provide clarity and reduce this uncertainty. The goal of this type of meeting is to provide a foundation for better performance and a path for moving forward.
These meetings should be held regularly — not just when there’s a crisis or a mistake is made. Ideally, they would be held at least monthly, if not more frequently. The meetings should be face-to-face — not staff meetings, lunch dates, emails, or end-of-day “walk-ins”.
The private meeting provides each of you with a chance to communicate freely, openly, and collaboratively. It also presents an opportunity for you to coach and develop your direct reports. Each meeting usually requires 45-60 minutes to discuss problem-solving issues and implement strategies.
It is designed to be a collaborative meeting (not a micromanaging mechanism), so both of you prepare agenda items in advance. It’s not just an opportunity to sit and chat. The most critical objectives are to improve performance and strengthen relationships. The outcome of the meeting should be mutually beneficial – everyone makes progress.
Research shows that teams that implemented a regular 1:1 program significantly improved their performance over time, whereas teams that did not implement such programs remained the same.
Here are some items typically on the agenda for 1:1’s:
• leadership and organizational issues
• interpersonal issues
• obstacles to improvement
• additional training needs
• feedback on current job performance
• resources needed and available
• accountability for commitments made in prior meetings
• new targets and goals
• personal problems that may affect work performance
These 1:1’s are working meetings that can lead to verifiable improvements. Action items can be articulated at the end of the meeting and reviewed again at the beginning of the next meeting. Maintaining accountability is critical for demonstrating progress.
This type of meeting does not replace formal performance appraisal sessions, but rather supplements them. It provides a chance for each direct report to have personal time with you to work out issues, share information, and to be coached to develop their personal capabilities. Even when correction or negative feedback needs to be communicated, the 1:1 session provides an effective way to address those issues in a private and positive way.
Resource: Cameron, K. (2008). Positive Leadership. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.