Leadership Team Development #18 – Great Managers Do Quarterly One-On-Ones

Great managers do 5 things: 1) they keep expectations clear; 2) they communicate well; 3) they include their people in the right meeting pulse and 4) they have a one-on-one quarterly conversation with each direct report. I’ll talk about #5 next week.

Many managers conduct a formal, documented employee review annually, semi-annually or quarterly. If that’s what you do, I am not suggesting that you scrap your process. I am suggesting that in addition, you do an informal one-on-one meeting with each direct report every 90 days – a conversation.

These meetings are most effective when done outside the office, perhaps over coffee, using the following questions as conversation starters:

  • How are you and they doing with living the company’s core values? If either of us is falling short, what will we do to improve?
  • Regarding roles and responsibilities for their seat, do the get it, still want it and have the capacity to do what their seat requires? Discuss and resolve any issues.
  • Are they setting and achieving “rocks” each quarter (team or individual priorities consistent with achieving company goals)? How are they doing and how can they improve next quarter?

These three questions will help you zero in on what’s working, the things you both feel good about, and what’s not working, things that are causing either of you to become frustrated. It’s a necessary conversation to have every 90 days if you want to get the best from your team.

Takeaway point for this week:

  • Answer this question: I am doing quarterly one-on-ones with every one of my direct reports – yes or no? If your answer is yes to 6 out of 7, it’s no. Plan now to make it a yes.

Encouragement: When you have these conversations, be prepared to hear some things that will challenge you. None of us is perfect and we all need to grow. These open/honest one-on-ones are the fastest way for you to grow into a great manager. Be vulnerable – be a good example and commit to your direct reports to work on improving yourself each quarter. The best of your people will love it and follow your lead.

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