I'm too busy to manage my team. How to run an effective one to one meeting
8th January 2020
“I’m too busy to manage my team” | How to run an effective one to one meeting.
One of the most common statements business owners and leaders say to me is: “I’m too busy to meet on a 1:1 basis with my team”.
I usually respond with a challenge: Are you saying you don’t have 30 minutes once a month to spend time with the most important asset in your business?
Are you saying you don’t have the time to spend a few hours (usually less than half a day in total) every month with each individual to understand what is going well, what is going less well and how you can help?
If that is what you are saying then it will be very difficult to help you to improve the performance of your team and in making this decision we also miss the greatest opportunity to improve your own performance.
This conversation normally leads to a discussion on how busy everyone is and whilst the business leader/manager often understands the value of getting together for a 1:1 meeting, day to day “stuff” just keeps pushing these meetings down the priority list. Most of the time, we arrive at two conclusions:
● Dedicating 1:1 time with the individual members of my team hasn’t been my number one priority and this needs to change.
● We need to make these meetings time-efficient, impactful, mutually beneficial and heaven forbid, even enjoyable!
Let’s look at these two conclusions in more detail.
The benefits of regular 1:1 meetings with your employees
Why is it important to put aside just 30 minutes per month to meet with each member of your team?
These meetings are an opportunity to:
2. Reinforce what is expected of each individual team member and how they can contribute to the achievement of the overall business objectives.
3. Listen and understand what is going well, what is not going so well and how you can help.
4. Discuss any performance issues at an early stage.
5. Acknowledge good performance and say thank you.
6. Agree specific actions that will help to improve performance.
7. Get to know each other better.
In my experience, as business leaders/managers we are prepared to dedicate this time to achieve better results, improve the retention of staff and create an open and transparent environment where people can achieve their true potential.
Some managers will prefer to have a day dedicated to 1:1s, others prefer to spread them out over several days. It depends on you as an individual what kind of scheduling allows you to best dedicate the mental space to this type of meeting. Whatever, the schedule, we need to make these meetings beneficial to both parties.
I wholeheartedly agree that time is a precious resource and these meetings must achieve a return on your time investment. This brings us on to how to plan and execute an efficient (and enjoyable!) 1:1 meeting.
A framework for running a successful 1:1 meeting
Over the years, I have seen many 1:1 frameworks that were so bureaucratic, so opaque, so complex that they became a tedious tick box exercise. It is vital that these meetings are considered by both parties to be the most important meeting of the month, not the least important – this is not just another meeting. That’s why at JRH we have created a simple framework that when aligned with the right mindset can be quickly and easily adopted by any business.
A sample of our 1:1 meeting proforma can be found below.
The key steps to conducting effective 1:1 meetings are as follows:
1. The individual objectives must be aligned to the overall company objectives.
2. ‘Must do’s’ are the important tasks that an individual needs (is expected) to complete (within an agreed timescale) to move towards the achievement of their objectives.
3. The individual rates themselves from 1-9 against each objective using the following scale:
○ 1-3 – off track
○ 4-6 – making progress, more still to do
○ 7-9 – on track
4. The manager then provides their own rating against each objective.
5. Any difference in the scores is discussed and this may result in additional agreed actions being set.
Agreeing next steps
6. Agreed actions must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed.
7. This process is repeated every month and starts with a review of the outcomes achieved in the previous month.
Using this framework to plan ahead of the meeting allows you to maximise the time allocated to the 1:1 meeting.
Being consistent with 1:1s
A note of caution – this process takes time to embed and requires the total commitment of the leadership team. Building trust with your employees is key to getting the most out of 1:1 meetings and this trust will come with regularity and follow up on the agreed actions.
Starting and stopping this process is more detrimental to your business than starting at all. If you are fully committed, then over time, good things will happen.
It’s all too easy to claim “being too busy” as an excuse for neglecting management duties such as 1:1 meetings. Of course it is true that many meetings are unnecessary or go on for far too long. However, dedicating time to meet with your employees individually is certainly not a waste of precious time and can reap many rewards.
Just half an hour per month can yield great benefits IF that 30 minutes is treated with the importance it deserves and results in specific, measurable actions. Following the 1:1 meeting framework above is a great way to achieve this.
Remember: consistency is key when it comes to 1:1 meetings.
If you would like to discuss this process in more detail then please get in touch and I will be delighted to help.
Further reading: Ten characteristics of a great sales manager.
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