Effective One on One’s @ Work

“The secret to winning is constant, consistent management.” — Tom Landry

Over the years I’ve had my share of Supervisors and directs. No two people are the same, each person is unique in their own ways and you have to be flexible with your methods to make your one on one meetings effective whether for managing your boss, your directs, or both. This post is focused on the fundamental elements of one on ones (e.g. frequency, duration, and structure) and I’ll provide suggestions on making sure one on ones are an effective use of both parties time.

Frequency

I reference the quote from Tom Landry, former Dallas Cowboy’s coach, “the secret to winning is constant, consistent management.” I think this quote is a good fit for this post because in order for one on ones to be effective, I truly believe you need to be meeting weekly. Both the boss and the direct need to be persistent and consistent.

Persistency is important because it is so easy to let your busy schedule and overwhelming workload push or even cancel the meeting. If you prioritize your calendar and time, make sure the one on one remains a ‘must have’ and look elsewhere for finding time.

Consistency is defined as the steadfast adherence to the same form. Keeping weekly meetings with your boss or directs over time develops a habit so that having the one on one meeting is like grabbing your morning coffee, submitting your timesheets, or calling your spouse on your way home from work.

Duration

My thoughts on duration is the meeting should be 30 minutes. I’ve been involved in meetings that are 60 minutes and I think on occasion a 60 minute meeting may be necessary, but often time is wasted when set to 1 hour. 30 minutes promotes prepareness, focus, and attention. Because you are being consistent and meeting weekly, 30 minutes gives both parties ample time to share their updates. By also meeting for only 30 minutes, the remaining 30 minutes is freed so that the team member and Supervisor can work on the priorities discussed and actually get some work done.

Structure

There should be 3 key agenda points for an effective one on one.

1) Direct’s weekly discussion points (10 min duration)

2) Supervisor’s weekly discussion points (10 min duration)

3) Supervisor’s coaching, development, & performance reviews (10 min duration).

Direct’s Updates

I reserve the first 10 minutes of the one on one to the team member. This allows the team member to speak first, to share updates based upon their understanding of the priorities. Doing so serves multiple purposes; ensure the team member is prepared to cover their list and has considered the talking points to raise up and the process becomes a good check of their PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) skill for the Supervisor to match his or her own list. You want many of your follow up items to be addressed in the first 10 minutes by the team member.

Supervisor’s Updates

The next 10 minutes is the turn of the Supervisor to review his or her follow up items from the previous weekly meeting and anything new that came up over the last few days. Focus here is typically on project and/or operational updates depending on the work. Just like the direct, the Supervisor also needs to be prepared. The weekly one on one requires more than just showing up, it demands dedication to review the actions items from the last meeting for yourself and your direct, to consider the action items to check on, and to be ready to listen and to give feedback and set direction.

Coaching & Development

The last 10 minutes is critical to encouraging the behaviors of your direct. This time could be utilized to review the team member’s performance review targets, to discuss progress towards their personal development plans, and/or to simple share feedback on the behaviors that you’ve observed since the last meeting. Giving feedback, whether positive or negative needs to be timely and the weekly one on one is another opportunity to be consistent with your team members. I’m not suggesting you hold all feedback until the one on one and I’ll talk about feedback further in a future post (say that 3 times quickly), but if the team members realize you are focused on helping them grow personally and within the organization, this last 10 minutes becomes a very effective portion of your one on one.

Summary

In closing, effective one on one’s are held weekly, with a duration of 30 minutes, with a defined structure where both the direct and Supervisor understand the expectations of each other! So before your next one on one, get organized and focused on making the most of those 30 minutes.

That will wrap up this post….what methods do you use to make your one on ones effective @ work? I’m very interested in feedback & open comments.

Jason

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