Leaders meet with their people, one-on-one.

Some think a weekly one-on-one is just for the corporate environment, between full-time, salaried workers and their supervisors. There’s a lot out there on that – including this great guide from Manager Tools.

One-on-ones truly work in a variety of environments, though.

I’ve had a client in a medical clinic who added monthly one-on-ones with all of their staff. Unorthodox in that environment, but it has resulted in lots of valuable employee-suggested improvements.

Weekly. Even for part-time employees? Yes.

My new hire, Ashleigh, and I have met weekly from the very start.

First rule of thumb – meet in private. This isn’t difficult for us, since there aren’t other co-workers around to listen in. For you, it could be in your office, or at your cubicle desk. Use sensitivity and caution when other employees are close by.

The intention is to spend thirty minutes discussing three basic matters of business:

  • 10 minutes on Ashleigh’s (the employee’s) questions and/or issues.
  • 10 minutes on Alan’s (the manager/boss’s) questions and/or issues.
  • 10 minutes on development – planning and figuring out what’s next.

If you read this Manager Tools Guide, you’ll find suggestions of questions you can ask your employee(s). With a little questioning and a sincere willingness to listen (as shown by eye contact and open posture) any questions or issues the employee has will likely come right out.

When I ask, Ashleigh doesn’t hesitate to let me know what difficulties she is facing, and ask for my input.

Once both of our questions/issues are resolved, or have a plan for resolution, we begin to discuss what’s next.

Are there other projects she could be doing? Would I like for her to research something else?

This is also the perfect opportunity to provide positive feedback. I strive for a ratio of 3:1, positive feedback to critical feedback.

One-on-ones are a valuable checkpoint. Used correctly and frequently, they will help your team become more cohesive.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

Ashleigh’s Input – After every one-on-one with Alan, my “buy-in” increases. I feel like my work is important, and I am appreciated. Communicating one on one, in person, helps us limit wasted time, miscommunications, and frustration. We can quickly get on the same page, resolve questions/issues, and start talking about future work.

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