There’s a fine line between micromanaging and leaving people to their own devices. It’s important to check in regularly with employees — not because you need to monitor their every move, but because direct managers and supervisors serve as the public face of “corporate” to lower-level employees.
Lack of engagement drains an employee’s productivity, typically causing him or her to look for work elsewhere; in this case, there’s not much a company can do about it. This is why most organizations conduct regular one-on-one meetings with employees at all levels. So why does Gallup’s “State of the Global Workplace” report suggest only 15% of employees are engaged?
Simply put: Because company leaders are failing to connect with employees.
Setting Expectations for One-on-Ones
It’s important to set aside 10 minutes per individual for weekly check-ins. I never miss these opportunities to keep my finger on the pulse of my company. The difference it makes in overall employee satisfaction and productivity is something to see.
And while the meetings are weekly, they don’t have to be formal or scheduled at the same time. Keep them fluid and simple and select times that make sense for both of you. This also makes meetings more effective: It gives an employee control over the terms of the one-on-one.
Keeping your team happy (and your culture healthy) really does start with strong employer-employee connections. The good news is that it’s not hard to achieve. Here’s how:
1. Prioritize topics. Ultimately, the point of these meetings is to set employees up for success. Thus, discuss topics that will achieve the desired results. These will boil down to the individual’s critical deliverables, which are measured on a number of factors.
When it comes to employees, it’s the revenue they generate versus the cost of employing them. But that’s not all they do. Customer-facing employees serve as the face of your company. The business must consider retention rates — employee loss can equate to customer loss — regardless of where employees are on the organizational chart.
2. Personalize meetings. I have a lot of different personalities on my team. Some team members are all business, with spreadsheets tracking spreadsheets and notifications keeping all of us on our game. Others are more relationship-driven and focus on networking with the right people to get things done.
I cater to both — the left brains and the right brains — and that’s not even counting the differences between those working in HR and those in sales. And some employees require a little extra hand-holding, so their meetings may differ a bit from those who just need encouragement or direction.
Personalizing everything — from the scheduling to the content of each meeting — makes it feel more human and less like a business requirement. It also encourages 360-degree feedback between the employee and company.
3. Promote behaviors. Everyone is different. Figure out a way to funnel all that individuality into business standards and procedures. This way, you can objectively measure performance, even though employees may have individual goals.
After soliciting feedback, each one-on-one should end with expectations for the next meeting. Give employees individual responsibilities to implement and track; then, ask them to report their own progress. This initiative proves they’re taking ownership of their actions.
Put everything that was discussed (including future goals) in an email or whichever documentation makes the most sense. Then, share it with your team member. Once employees get used to this style of reporting, it will become more effective and expected.
Keeping the Momentum
Teamwide meetings are great, but they’re generally structured with a top-down approach. One-on-ones give employees a voice, ensure their contributions are recognized, and help them plan for the future.
Ten minutes is all it takes to have a productive one-on-one meeting. Of course, you should have longer meetings on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis to review overall progress. But it’s amazing how much you can accomplish by spending a little time each week chatting with your team members. There’s no better way to gather and distribute fresh perspectives throughout the organization.