In the current climate of corporate America, a lot of employees feel like their careers are in a constant state of flux. Gone are the days when young people got jobs right out of college and began the course of steadily moving up the career ladder. Roles and responsibilities are constantly changing to meet the needs of the economy at large, and many employees feel like they are just pieces in a chess game being moved around at the will of the company. We know that this damages morale and consequently productivity, so that’s why it’s important to help employees see their value, and inspire them to great things for the company and their careers. Regular, one-on-one meetings can help do that. It gives team members a big confidence boost when you take the time to meet with them, and it builds the kind of rapport that is necessary to actually get stuff done as a cohesive team. But, before you start yanking team members out of their cubicles for a huddle, consider these six tenants of one-on-one meetings that inspire.
Have regular meetings.
If you’re going to have one-on-one meetings, they need to be part of the regularly scheduled broadcasting. Having a meeting every once in a while won’t accomplish the true goals of the endeavor which is to build up and inspire your team. How often you have meetings will depend on the size of your team and the demands of your own schedule, but make an effort to put them on the calendar in advance and don’t cancel them! Cancelling a one-on-one meeting sends the employee the message that they aren’t really that important and it could breed resentment in your ranks.
Ask how they’re doing.
Always start your one-on-one meetings by genuinely inquiring about how the team member is doing: personally and professionally. This gives you a lot of insight into their performance, and it shows them that they aren’t just a number. Next, be prepared to listen. The employee may just say, “fine.” Or, they may vomit their feelings all over you. You don’t necessarily have to give advice. Just remain objective and judgement free.
Let them know that you notice all of their achievements, big and small. Before going into the meeting, make sure to note two or three things that they have done well. Ask how they were able to make these accomplishments, and if there’s anything they need to keep up the good work.
Look for solutions.
Sometimes you will undoubtedly need to have difficult conversations with team members. But instead of approaching it as a problem that they need to punished for, present it as an issue that needs a solution. Walk through the problem with the employee and look for solutions together, rather than making it a one-sided flogging.
A one-on-one meeting is the perfect time to provide career coaching. Take time to set goals and measure progress. As a manager, you have valuable experience that you can share that will help the employee find the right path for their career and the steps they need to take to get ahead. Afterall, you were probably in their position at some point in your own career, why not just tell them how to get on the fast track?
Create action items.
Every one-on-one meeting should end with a list of actionable items that you and the employee can walk away with. Decide together what needs to be done, how it will happen and when. Take notes on these agreements and tell your team member that you’ll email them after the meeting. This way, everything is in writing and you are both on the same page.
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