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Executive coach and guest velocity guru Beth Armknecht Miller offers her sage advice on using regular 1on1 meetings to increase engagement and improve productivity.
Communication between leaders and their teams is critical to success. Poorly executed communication strategies can lead to lost productivity, distrust, and a disengaged workforce. When leaders make a commitment to strong and consistent communication they help employees perform to their highest potential, connect employees to the company goals and values, and develop them to their full potential. Regular 1on1 meetings also allow you as a leader to track the overall performance of your team members and make necessary adjustments before small mistakes become costly ones.
Leaders are often committed to weekly team meetings where the team discusses objectives, achievements, and roadblocks. But many managers neglect spending 1on1 time with their reports until there is a problem. Those leaders who have ongoing 1on1 conversations with their employees provide employees with consistent, actionable feedback to help keep them on track, engaged and appreciated in their jobs. If you aren’t committed to monthly 1on1 meetings, you are missing a great opportunity to give (and receive) feedback, and help employees become more successful in their positions. All leaders and managers, from the top down, need to make this time a priority.
There may not seem as though there is enough time in a month to meet with each employee. But scheduling a consistent block of time each month for 1on1s shows that you as a leader care about all of your employees’ professional growth, development, and ultimate success. It also ensures an equitable environment, where all employees receive the same amount of attention from managers. Often times, highly productive workers get lost in the shuffle because managers focus their attention on their less productive or problematic employees.
Meeting times should be pre-scheduled and you should show that 1on1s are a priority by not shifting them around at the last minute. Start the first of each month by blocking off one hour per employee. As you move through the process and create a rhythm for monthly meetings, subsequent interactions may take less time.
Monthly meetings should be about the employee, not you, the manager. Start the meeting off by discussing the successes the employee has enjoyed since your last 1on1 time. Find out whether or not that employee has the tools he or she needs in order to accomplish specific goals. If tools and resources are needed, commit to putting them in place before the next meeting.
Share observations that you’ve made over the last month. Discuss what the employee is doing well, and where you see opportunities for improvement and growth. Ask what you can do, as a manager, to help make those things happen. From there, set a specific goal for the next meeting based upon everything you’ve discussed. And finally, ask the employee for feedback. What can you improve upon as a leader to help that employee, and the rest of the team, achieve their goals?
Regular 1on1 meetings increase engagement and have a positive effect on productivity. When open and consistent communication exists between leadership and the workforce, positive outcomes will follow.
Beth Armknecht Miller is a Senior Associate at Dynamic Results LLC, a boutique firm offering strategy implementation, accountability and leadership development solutions. Beth is a trusted executive advisor, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is passionate about building sustainable leadership within small to midsize organizations, which will engage employees, increase performance, and build enterprise value. Her latest book is "Are You Talent Obsessed?: Unlocking the secrets to a workplace team of raving high-performers."
If you are new to coaching and/or experiencing specific coaching challenges, Beth's Coach the Coach program is designed to increase your success as a coach by focusing on your specific issues. You can check it out here.