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The topic of 1:1s has become a hot topic for my clients over the past 90 days.  In this fast paced and technologically filled world, I wonder if we have neglected the importance of the face to face conversation.  This blog will outline some principles to consider for exceptional 1:1s.

Listening vs. Talking:  If you as a manager are talking most of the time then the 1:1 is about your agenda vs. their agenda.  Evaluate how much time you are listening vs. talking.  When it comes to listening are you thinking about what you want to say next? Or are you focused on what they are saying and how they are saying it? Being present with your direct reports provides great value.

Beginning, Middle and End:  Each 1:1 has a beginning, middle and end.  The way you begin matters as much as how the conversation ends.  At the beginning of the conversation consider asking an open-ended question to find out what is top of mind or what a good outcome for the session might be.  End your conversation with a forward-facing question around commitment or a new behavior.  Incidentally, the commitment from the previous 1:1 is where the next 1:1 begins.

Frequency:  How often should I meet with my direct reports?  This is a common question I get asked all the time.  The answer depends on the person.  If the person is new to the role or your business, consider more frequent meetings.  If the person is well trained and high performing less frequent may work better.  You could always ask them to consider what they need / want.

Themes:  Sometimes the 1:1s get a bit stale. Consider having a theme or focus for each 1:1.  You might try having a session that is focused on their development or a task focused 1:1 that is about the project list.  A developmental 1:1 is about helping them answer “What skills would you like to have mastered in the future?” and “What areas of the business would you like to learn more about?” These questions open the person up to the possibilities of growth.  Your job is to provide resources, training and projects to support their development.  Sometimes people do not know what it is they need, so your job is to assess their skills and help create a pathway for growth.

Feedback:  How often should you give feedback? You should definitely provide positive feedback in areas that you see their strengths shining through.  As human beings, we sit in a place of self-criticism and therefore you as a manager have a great opportunity to really deliver positive feedback.  Consider this feedback model: Situation, Behavior and Impact The situation is the moment in time, behavior is the action they displayed and impact is the outcome that was created.

For example: At the meeting yesterday (Situation) you showed enthusiasm and clarity (Behavior) I felt encouraged and motivated (Impact)

Mental Game:  We believe that all people have the ability to solve problems, reach goals, utilize their strengths and achieve.  If you believe that people do not have this ability, you may be creating overdependent direct reports or your expectations are too low.  Improve your mental game and ask good questions to help people find their own answers.

Best Books on the Subject Of Coaching:

The Coaching Habit – Michael Stanier

Co-Active Coaching – Henry Kimsey – House

Change the Question Change Your Life – Marilee Adams

Please feel free to comment with any questions you have about 1:1s or best practices that you have used to lead exceptional 1:1s.