I remember when my daughter was eight (who is now 19) spent the afternoon at my office one day. She did her normal things of reading, drawing and playing on my phone. On the way home she asked, “Daddy, do you get paid to go to meetings all day? Did you have to go to college for that?” It’s funny but kind of sad. I think the pandemic has increased the number of meetings as people try to validate by being busy with meetings versus productive with tasks.
This is multiplied ten fold for leaders who are cc’d on every email and asked to join tons of meetings. In my opinion, there is one meeting most leaders either ignore, cancel or worse, join but are not mentally present. This meeting is the most important meeting of them all: your 1 on 1s. I consult other talent leaders who struggle juggling a hectic schedule while also trying to move the needle in such a challenging talent market. When I ask them about their 1o1s, there’s usually a pause. Here are some of the statements that follow:
- I have them but once a month.
- No, I don’t have a standard agenda, I usually just give the team member updates
- I only talk about performance during merit season
- I have them scheduled but I usually have to move or cancel them because of conflicts
If there is one symptom of a recruiting team not performing at the level it could it’s the absence or “half-assed” approach many leaders have in 1o1s. This time should be protected from overlaps with other meetings. It should account for 30-40% of what you do during the week. If not, then you have several problems waiting to happen.
How do you make your 1o1s a vital part of your leadership strategy?
- PREPARE:I’m sure you detest joining a meeting when there is no agenda and no one seems to know why the call was scheduled. It’s a drain on efficiency at all levels. The same holds true for your 1o1s. Take time before the call to review the team member’s KPIs or scorecard. Have a list of items you want to discuss whether it be updates or questions you’d like to ask to probe into their engagement levels.
- AGENDA: I have a standard template I use for 1o1s. Since we use the Sprint Recruiting Methodology, I focus on the points won up to that point. I also ask three key questions every time I meet with a team member:
- What’s working so we can scale it?
- What are your obstacles so I can help?
- Where do you need help?
- Let’s discuss progress on your career plan.
- TAKE NOTES: This is critical for so many reasons. The first is to be sure you have something documented to review for the next 1o1 (part of the PREPARE step). Also, it’s great to send the summary to the participant via email after the call to be sure you captured everything. This will also let the team member know you were listening.
- BE PRESENT: Put away your phone. Shut own your email. Whatever distractions normally keep you from being present for your 1o1 should be removed. This is their time so honor it. Don’t do the 1o1 while running through an airport or while waiting in a drive thru. You should honor the time with them and be mentally present.
- LISTEN MORE THAN YOU SPEAK: Many of the team members I have led over the years will tell you I ask more questions than I answer during a 1o1. This is the perfect time for me to help my team learn to make decisions on their own. Questioning also gives me some insight into barriers the participant may not see in how they approach certain situations. It also gives me indications of gaps in their knowledge or abilities so I can work with them on their development plan. If your 1o1 is thirty minutes, you should really only talk 20% of the time and most of the talking should be questions versus pontifications.
- HONOR THE TIME: This is along the lines of being present but always move 1o1s when you need to if it helps you be present. You should never cancel a 1o1 twice in a row because it essentially tells your team they are not important. I know many will argue this point with me but if your team is who you depend on to make things happen, then the time with you should be valued. It is ok to turn down a meeting because you have a 1o1, that’s what leaders are supposed to be doing.
If you make these small changes in how you conduct, prepare for, and honor the time with your team, I promise you will see significant changes. There will be more engagement, production and team satisfaction when the leader begins setting the tone for what’s really important in this thing we call WORK.
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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