One Leader’s Surprising Experience with One-on-Ones
One of my coaching clients is developing his skill at holding one-on-ones with his management team. He’s learning you don’t have to choose between strong relationships and great results.
Strong relationships fuel great results.
He’s working to:
- Begin interactions with a relational touch. Briefly postpone problem solving. Greet people personally. He cares for his team, but he gets consumed with day-to-day concerns. He said in the past he would dive right in. Now he’s working to begin with the person.
- Relax and be present, rather than distracted, during interactions. Distraction is easy when you’re great at solving problems and delivering results. If you aren’t careful, people end up low on your priority list. One tip is watch your body language. Are you sending the message that you can’t wait to move on?
- Schedule one-on-ones at appropriate times. My client prefers mid-afternoon. He likes to clear his mind by dealing with pressing issues in the morning.
- Follow up with people. When an issue or project comes up during a one-on-one, make a note to follow-up with them in a couple days. “How’s that going?”
- Spontaneously take people to lunch. Don’t set an agenda. Just have lunch and conversation.
The first surprise he notices is that strengthening relationships improves openness. His managers asked him to get feedback for them. They want him to talk to the members of their team.
Imagine a manager who asks their boss to seek feedback from their team for them.
Motivated managers want to know how they’re doing. When you build relationships with your managers, you make it safe for them to seek feedback from their team.
The second surprise he notices is that he’s more approachable. People come up to him when they see him walking through the plant.
What’s important about successful one-on-ones?
How might leaders strengthen relationships with team members?
Afterword: Even though he’s spending more time in one-on-ones, things are still getting done!
Hi Dan. I agree that one-on-ones are very important, as they keep the relationship present & strong. I think weekly one-on-ones would be ideal, but some seem to think that’s too often. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on the optimal frequency for one-on-ones.
Hi Dan, yes, this is a great message. People want to know you leadership cares about them. A daily hello, a regular check in, etc. leads to the relationship that builds a strong team.
Thanks for sharing!
I have 13 team members, so I do monthly one on ones.
As a Project Manager, I have found if no one is saying anything you doing just fine. You know you would be getting ripped if you didn’t do well. I remember I was new to the company having a feel felt day, when the Superintendent said what’s up? You O.K. ? I was reluctant to say, but I knew he cared! So we chatted and it was like the world was lifted off my shoulders, so I can say from experiences one on one is a great way to go!
Your also correct that thinks are getting done, works for me!
Comfort with your leaders is important because comfort decreases stress and creates a environment that invites innovation and creativity. I take pride in being the safety rep. for my shift and they are comfortable enough with me to tell me what going wrong or how they violate a certain procedure and the barriers they face when trying to follow certain procedures. This allows me to bring these issues to management without the blame being put on the individual rather the process we have and focusing on people make the right decision when the right decision is the simplest decision. Sometimes people operate in fear and are afraid to give their ideas and to be create which adds stress and for my line of work often leads to increase injuries.
As a teacher for more than thirty years I recall fondly my favorite principal, one who made a habit of leading by walking around and talking with his staff. I still have some of his personalized comments about myr report cards with positive accolades for the work that I (and fellow colleagues am sure) were doing. Successful leadership in his case reaped lasting loyalty from his staff and helped to prevent the burnout that can come from feeling underappreciated.The time he invested in personal recognition made all the difference in staff, students and school well being. Positively,