I cannot stress too highly how crucial it is for leaders to hold regular 1-1’s with their people. I think there is no more important a session. Too often, I come across managers who have the best of intentions for holding these sessions but all too frequently cancel them, because other urgent things get in the way. Always urgent things – often not important things.
Another barrier I hear frequently is managers are too busy to have time to hold regular 1-1’s. I accept people are really busy these days – it’s a word I hear time and time again, but never confuse business with effectiveness. They are very different things. Indeed, this busy-ness is often a result of not having regular 1-1’s.
I am often told that a manager has too many direct reports to be able to hold 1-1’s. If they have ten or more direct reports, I agree with them. The problem here is not the 1-1’s, it’s the number of direct reports and although it might be tough to find solutions, its the structure that needs addressing.
Doubters also say they are not necessary because they see their people informally on a daily basis. That’s great and long may it continue – informal catch ups are important, but never let them detract from holding a regular formal session.
I understand its more challenging if your team is based remotely. So, make it happen – virtually if necessary, although face to face contact is still very important when possible.
The frequency and duration of 1-1’s will vary according to need, but as a guide I believe once a month for an hour is about right. They should also be personalised to the needs of the individual, but can follow a basic agenda:
- How has the team member performed against their “power of 3” goals since the last 1-1?
- What are the areas of focus before the next 1-1?
- What does the leader need to do to enable the team member to deliver successfully?
Top and tail the session with a personal catch up (for which you need a genuine desire to get to know the whole person) and you have the perfect 1-1 framework.
There are lots of places it’s possible to hold 1-1’s, often it’s really good to get out of the office. Holding a 1-1 in the office may be most time efficient, but a change of environment can really work very well.
1-1’s are just one part of great performance management. They provide an opportunity, on a regular basis, to review performance, but are supplemented by frequent informal contact, and by some kind of appraisal process.