People often ask me how they can be more effective as a manager. One approach I recommend is to meet one-on-one with each of your direct reports for 15 to 30 minutes at least once every two weeks.
Having one-on-one meetings is a simple strategy and just plain common sense—but it’s not common practice, according to polling we conducted together with Training magazine earlier this year. When we asked people what they wanted out of their one-on-ones with their immediate supervisor, we discovered managers aren’t making time to meet with their direct reports on a regular basis—and when they do meet, they aren’t using the time effectively. (See infographic.)
Ready to get started?
Before you start ramping up your one-on-one meeting schedule, make sure you’ve established a firm foundation, which begins with clear goals and objectives. All good performance begins with clear goals.
Goal setting has two parts:
- Identify what the responsibility is.
- Identify what good behavior looks like.
When it comes to goal setting, strive for focus. Less is more. We often see people with eight, ten, or twelve goals—that’s too many. We’ve found that having three to five observable and measurable goals works best. Remember this 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of your most significant results will come from twenty percent of your goals—your key areas of responsibility.
Direct reports set the agenda
One important distinction that separates a true one-on-one meeting from other manager/direct report meetings is that the manager sets the time but the direct report sets the agenda. A manager’s role is to listen, ask clarifying questions, and look for ways they can help. One-on-ones are a wonderful way for managers to learn how to best coach people. As people discuss how they are doing in relation to their goals, they will share with their manager what they need and what might be holding them back.
Make time to meet
Managing is about your people—because when people accomplish their goals, the organization wins. Set some time aside to meet with each of your people today. You’ll be surprised at the impact even 15 to 30 minutes every other week can make!