One on one conversations matter!

When they?re done right

It?s a conversation I had with a friend recently that prompts the topic for this weeks blog. My friend, we?ll call him James, is on the verge of quitting his job. He?s not bored or uninterested in what he?s doing, he loves the idea that what he does genuinely makes a difference in peoples? lives. He hasn?t outgrown his role and his performance is above average – he knows his stuff and enjoys the challenge of the role. The thing is, he doesn?t really want to quit, he just doesn?t know what else to do.

He believes his leader doesn?t care! His exact words were ?my manager doesn?t give a #%*!?. Out of curiosity I asked, How do you know that? Did they tell you that directly?? He said ?I only ever see her when she needs something from me or if I?ve done something wrong. She increases my targets all the time and making herself look good is all she cares about. She doesn?t give a damn about us!?.

James vented for over an hour about the frustrations he was dealing with at work and it all came down to one thing?the relationship he had with his manager. He only knew her from what he saw and how he experienced their brief, infrequent interactions. In the 15 months he?d worked in her team he had only had two one on one conversations. And the conversations where first about his probation ending and second about his annual performance. There was no mention of his ongoing development or what he was interested in, both inside and outside of work and he knew nothing about her, except that she liked to go to the gym.

What?s sad about James? situation is that, when he quits his job, the business will lose a great employee. Someone who is loyal, hard-working and passionate about people and making a difference. And they probably won?t ever know that they were the reason he left!

Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team identifies the ?absence of trust? as a core reason teams don?t perform as well as they could. Trust is the most important foundation of creating and maintaining a highly cohesive team. This is where one on one?s matter. If you?re not giving your staff the opportunity to be heard then they?ll assume you don?t care and they don?t matter and they won?t trust you!

One on one conversations are the perfect opportunity to get to know your staff at a deeper level?if they?re run the right way! If they?re not, then you?re wasting your time. It?s important to acknowledge that?

One on one discussions are NOT:

  • Run by you
  • Unscheduled/zero-notice conversations
  • A way of staying in control of your team
  • A conversation purely focused on performance metrics
  • A time used to reprimand or punish staff
  • A tick-the-box conversation
  • A discussion where you dominate and your staff simply agree
  • A 10 minute grilling once a week
  • A swing past your desk and check-in at random occasions

One on one discussions ARE:

  • Run by the staff member – yes you need to schedule them but they will drive the conversation
  • An opportunity for your staff to feel heard without the attention of their peers
  • A time to talk about development and opportunities for growth
  • A discovery session on how staff are motivated and what the future looks like
  • A conversation that builds rapport and deepens the working relationship
  • A meeting where the leader speaks only 20% of the time and asks questions to fully understand what?s going on for the staff member
  • An opportunity to influence outcomes and drive results through well intended questions
  • Held once a month (no more and no less) and go for 45-60 minutes
  • Scheduled in advance – so your staff can prepare.

If, for whatever reason you?re not having one on one conversations with your staff then I hope you gain some inspiration and motivation to start. It?s the best use of your time as a leader. I know James would agree!

Don?t agree or need help with this one? Give me a call!

Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on creating efficient and sustainable team environments through adaptable leadership. She is a Leadership Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Mentor and Speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with.

If you?d like to know more about her latest program ?Next Level Leadership? please drop her an email




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