“One-to-Ones Could Be Your Most Productive Activity as a Leader”

by Rob Marchalonis.

The benefits of one-to-one meetings with employees are numerous, but many leaders aren’t sure how to begin or the best way to structure these engagements. As a result, they can be hesitant to start or continue one-to-ones, or proceed with an unproductive agenda. Use the guide below to launch and help you make better use of everyone’s time and effort.

Consider Your Objectives, Agenda, and Schedule.

Before you meet one-to-one, commit to a deliberate approach and positive frame of mind. Consider these primary objectives:

  • Respect – sharing quality time is a simple yet effective way for you to acknowledge and honor another person.
  • Relationship – build personal and organizational trust as you invest in understanding and connecting with others.
  • Communication – realize that your “conversations” are likely the essence of your relationship with co-workers.
  • Clarity – understanding what others know, believe, expect, and question will increase your “leadership equity”.
  • Results – better one-to-ones will help you achieve critical outcomes faster and more cooperatively.

Establish a clear agenda, so that meetings are most productive. Consider the outline and questions below to guide one-to-ones toward better results:

  1. Check-In – get an update on each other’s state-of-mind with a question like “How is your week going?”
  2. Critical Outcomes – ensure clarity about the top 2 – 4 objectives you each want to achieve in the next 6 – 18 months.
  3. Performance Results – get updates on results and goals for the top 4 – 6 measures of performance.
  4. Issues & Opportunities – list and prioritize what’s most important to focus on in the next few days and weeks.
  5. Challenges & Solutions – list and prioritize the obstacles inhibiting results, and possible solutions.
  6. Prioritized Actions – list and prioritize required work or activities that will “take more than 4 hours” to complete.
  7. Schedule Updates – summarize where you will be, between now and your next meeting.

Schedule regular one-to-one meeting dates and times, with an emphasis on shorter but more frequent meetings to start. Productive meetings need not be long to be effective. The efficient use of everyone’s time is critical.

  • Start-Up (first 5 – 10 meetings) – meet for just 15 – 20 minutes, twice a week.
    • For the first meeting or two, mostly ask questions and listen to seek understanding.
    • Look to establish a relationship, trust, and a productive format for your discussions.
  • Transition (after start-up, for 3 – 6 months) – meet for 30 – 60 minutes, weekly.
    • After start-up, conversations will become more comfortable, relevant, and productive.
    • Maintain a consistent meeting schedule and be sure to re-schedule any calendar conflicts.
  • Ongoing (when employee productivity has stabilized) – schedule weekly to bi-weekly.
    • Sustain your relational investment and refine the ways you support each other.
    • Accept that some meetings will have to be skipped or changed, based on schedules.

Leaders, enjoy much better employee relationships and performance when you launch (or improve) one-to-one meetings with a simple consideration of your objectives, agenda, and schedule.

Note: When your one-to-ones are not resulting in the improvements or productive outcomes you desire, it may be caused by “misunderstanding”.  Learn ways to get over this hurdle (HERE) in my blog post “Help Me Understand”.

Rob Marchalonis (Rob@LSP123.com) shares knowledge and experience with leaders to increase their organizational productivity. Email, or message Rob on LinkedIn. Learn more at www.LSP123.com and www.IncentShare.com

(Click HERE) to see results Rob has helped clients achieve.

More Business Advice

Business owners, employers, and leaders can sharpen their skills with the content below.

What Did You Mean by That?

What Did You Mean by That?

I know what was said, but what was really communicated?  Too often, because of courtesy, culture, or for other reasons, one party doesn't believe it's appropriate (or more likely worth the risk) to share their true thoughts and opinions.  I sometimes wonder how much...

Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure

In my experience, one of the most formidable powers in your workplace is peer pressure.  The ongoing anxiety by employees that their input and actions will be observed, judged, and possibly challenged by co-workers, associates, friends, and family. When the culture...

Definition of Culture

My simple definition of an organization's culture is: (Leadership + Strategy) = Culture Who leaders are, what they believe, how they behave, and their plan or strategy to move the organization forward and deliver increasing value to stakeholders tends to define the...

Shared Success

Find a simple way to "share the success" of your organization with your workgroups and you can unleash amazing capacity and potential within your workforce!  Learn more at IncentShare.comRead for More Business Advice Whether you're a C-level leader, entrepreneur or...

Super Strategies

Super Strategies

During 25+ years as a business leader, some strategies have proven to be game-changers.  Virtually all were taught to me by others, and many produced amazing results.  Here are a few from my Top 10 list: A simple emphasis on LSP - Leadership, Strategy, & Process....

Exceed Expectations

Many leaders make promises, commit to deadlines, or take on challenges that are at the limit of their capabilities.  For some, it's a requirement of the job.  Can you relate?  How do you manage the pressure of promises?  Am I stating the obvious that upfront is the...

Unmanaged People

"If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings, and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don't have to manage them." Jack Welch - 20yr. CEO of General ElectricRead for More Business Advice Whether you're a C-level...

Sam’s Rule #4

Sam’s Rule #4

Among the many amazing organizations and leaders I've worked with, some have influenced me more than others. Two of those were Walmart, and Sam Walton. Although I never knew Sam Walton personally, I’ve felt his spirit and experienced his impact on numerous occasions....

Shoulder to Shoulder

With which would you rather enter a battle -- 20 average warriors or 5 Navy Seals? Rob Marchalonis helps organizations improve their Leadership, Strategy, & Processes (LSP) so they can grow and prosper.  Connect with him at LSP123.com or IncentShare.comRead for...

Let Strategy Bridge Your Leadership Gap

Let Strategy Bridge Your Leadership Gap

Need Leaders? Organizational success begins with leadership.  Unfortunately, leadership effectiveness varies widely in most organizations. This is especially true in smaller businesses with young or inexperienced leaders, inadequate training, and limited "bench...

Subscribe for Updates & Resources

12 + 8 =