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Friday, May 13, 2022

Lean Quote: Improve Engagement With 1-on-1 Meetings

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"One of the biggest values of 1:1s is discovering where employees are struggling or stuck, and helping them find a path forward. Not by telling them how you'd do it, but by guiding them to come up with their own solution.  —  Jon Plax, Senior Director, Customer Centric Engineering, Salesforce

1-on-1 meetings are crucial to the success of your company. Think about it. 1-on-1 meetings are a tool used to help your employees succeed, which directly impacts how well your company performs. Without these meetings, you’d have directionless, disengaged employees — which isn’t good for team morale or accomplishing goals.

There are 5 ways your managers can improve their engagement when it comes to 1-on-1 meetings.

1. Don’t skip the 1-on-1

Rule number one of 1-on-1s: never skip them. It doesn’t matter how busy your management team gets. A 1-on-1 that’s regularly skipped or rescheduled indicates to the employee that they’re not a priority. And that fosters feelings of indifference, which can cause disengagement. Reschedule meetings if needed. 

2. Be prepared

Want to have a useless meeting? Well, if you don’t prepare before you come to the table, it’s more or less guaranteed to be — let’s be frank — a waste of time.

It’s obvious to an employee when their manager is unprepared for a meeting. And that reflects poorly on the entire company. It makes an employee feel like their manager doesn’t care, which has a devastating effect on their employee experience.

3. Actively listen

Listening may not come naturally to everybody. The 1-on-1 is a great opportunity to brush up on this skill. Remember, the 1-on-1 is all about the employee, so give them a chance to speak.

Start the meeting by asking how the employee is doing. This helps you understand what to focus on during the meeting. It also gives you a quick temperature check of how the employee is thinking or feeling.

4. Avoid status updates.

When a manager or team member says they don't see the value of effective 1 on 1 meetings, it's a virtual certainty they spend most of the meeting talking about projects and status updates. That's a huge waste.

For managers, it can be so tempting: they finally have a chance in an otherwise hectic week to talk to you about your work. If you're on a big team, this may be one of the few times they meet with you alone.

If they feel out of the loop, then they'll want to talk to you about projects to feel like they know what's going on.  It's also a super safe topic to fill the time, and avoid tough, sometimes uncomfortable, subjects that really matter.

5. Coaching

After going over the progress update, spend the rest of the time coaching. In order to do this correctly, it’s important for managers to understand their report’s motivations and long-term goals. That way managers can offer relevant advice and guide them in the right direction.

One important thing to keep in mind when coaching is making sure to ask open-ended questions so employees are mentally engaged. Don’t talk at them; that is not how anyone learns. Challenge them to think critically and solve the problem first before you offer a solution.

The key to good 1-on-1 meetings is doing them. Don’t worry if you don’t nail it straight away. There are many things you will learn along the way that are specific to your company and the individual humans involved. Regularly sharing your thoughts and feedback is your most powerful tool for making great 1-on-1s happen.

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