Leaders today are strapped for time. However, to build strong teams, create buy-in from employees, and ensure synergy through the ranks, 1:1s are essential.
In Gallup’s comprehensive 2015 study, “The State of the American Manager,” they found a harsh truth: 50% of Americans have left a job to “get away from their manager at some point in their career.” Another Gallup study on employee engagement showed that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement. Additionally, employees whose leaders hold regular meetings with them are almost three times as likely to be engaged as employees whose leaders do not hold regular meetings with them.
It is clear that open lines of communication make all the difference. At their core, 1:1s are about improving communication with your team.
Here are 3 Strategies you can use right now:
15:5 Method. This is a great choice if you simply do not have 30 minutes each week for each employee. Use the first 15 minutes to discuss work: current projects, updates, roadblocks, specific feedback, objectives for the following week, etc. Then take the last 5 minutes and talk about the employee (the leader listens): life, family, hobbies, health, etc. Be sure to use a template that is filled out ahead of time.
Project Centric Method. This is great when the employee and leader are working together towards specific project execution such as an event, product launch, or desired outcome by a specific time. This 1:1 will have three parts. The first is reporting on last week’s commitments. The next is going over wins and losses from last week and the leader asking how they can clear the path. The third part is next week’s commitments. We have found this method to work wonders on teams / projects that are stagnant.
Culture & Values Method. Use this strategy if you already have project meetings or software that keeps track of everyone’s work. This method helps the employee by creating an atmosphere where the company’s culture and values are thought about, talked about, and put at the forefront of their work. Discuss how they are performing in the context of culture. Ask them how they are honoring the company’s values. Recognize wins and celebrate them.
Regardless of which strategy you end up choosing, it is imperative that you as the leader are prepared. That you understand the vision and north star for that employee. It is easy to think because the employee is carrying the conversation, that the leader can check out, but this is a trap! As soon as the employee smells their leader doesn’t know or doesn’t care what is going on, engagement takes a nosedive.
When 1:1s are consistent and meaningful, you’ll create a feedback loop that is craved, get more done, and even better...create trust.