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The Most Valuable Meeting Of The Week.. The 1:1?
Guest Leader Spotlight: Sharing Career Best Insights & Learning
Welcome to today's guest feature, written by Paul James Harvey. Paul has an impressive 25 years of experience at the helm of Director level roles in multi-million-pound enterprises, and today he is sharing the most vital lesson he’s learned about leadership throughout his career.
Learning from each other is priceless, yet it is often overlooked. And although our individual learning methods and work approaches may differ, the value of gleaning insights from our peers should never be underestimated. Thank you to Paul for penning this piece.
We all work in an ever faster paced world, where businesses operate a lean structure, and as leaders, we are forced to adapt to an ever-increasing workload.
This perfect storm of pressures on our diaries can mean having to be ruthless with where time during the working day is spent.
I have worked for many different types of leaders throughout my career, but the ones who I have looked back on as inspirational had one thing in common, they religiously kept to a pulse of 1-2-1 meetings with me.
This meant they were regularly on hand to give me feedback and help me develop as an individual. It also meant that I kept my focus and felt I knew how I contributed to the company’s vision and mission statements. Above all else though, it meant that we really got to know, and in most cases, like each other. It is far more difficult to get the best out of your team if you rarely spend any time with them and know what makes them happy.
This is an approach I have tried to keep with every team I have ever led, as I believe this one act serves to free up time in the long run.
You see, keeping the rhythm of these sessions at a regular frequency, preferably weekly, will mean there should be less need for ad-hoc meetings, and will also keep you updated on the performance of your team, making preparing your board papers or for catch ups with your line manager easier.
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I believe creating a fixed list of key items will make the time spent together more efficient. For example:
Time to listen to your team (at least 30% of the time allocated, maybe more)
Performance against OKR’s/Objectives
Corrective plans for any off-plan performance
Cascade of relevant and appropriate information from the wider business
Any additional agenda items for discussion at next 1-2-1
The first agenda point is by far the most important. By really listening to your team members first, to understand how they are doing and to get a general understanding of how their time has been since your last session, you will not only build a culture of trust and openness, but you may uncover any potential issues early, and even, get to hear some ideas for business improvement.
A weekly check in on OKR/objective performance will ensure your team members are focusing on performance improvements between each session. After all, nobody wants to arrive without some positive progress to report on!
Cascading wider company performance and a roundup of any business activity you may have been party to, that your team may not have, will help your reports really understand what challenges and opportunities the organization faces.
In most employee survey feedback reports I have read, poor communication can be all too common a theme. Team members who feel they are being given regular updates, both good and bad, are more likely to really feel part of the organization.
Lastly, this regular contact will mean quarterly appraisals (Yes, that’s right, not a woeful annual coffee!) will take far less preparation for all, as your team members will know exactly where their key strengths and improvement focus areas are, as you will have been openly discussing them every week.
So next time, your badly organized boss drops a project on you, try and push back upwards rather than cancel your team 1-2-1’s.
If you are struggling for time, having a fixed agenda and frequency may allow you to reduce your one-to-one length from the traditional hour to thirty or forty minutes. You may also find you build trust more quickly with your team, allowing you to delegate some of your tasks to them.
I truly believe you will have more motivated team members who feel empowered and want to deliver for you.
They may even be less likely to leave the business, which in the long run will save you the time needed to interview and onboard replacements.
A reminder about August Office Hours:
Have questions about how you lead? Thinking about how you gear yourself up for the second half of the year?
This August I’m holding ‘office hours’ each week, for Spark readers only.
It’s a complimentary 20 minutes with me, one on one, to talk about your leadership and help you fuel your fire for the rest of 2023.
I’m setting aside two hours each Thursday, across timezones. It’s an opportunity to bring the writing into your real life and I’ll answer your questions, share insight on the themes you read about here, and help you tackle other leadership challenges you’re personally facing. There are now a limited number of slots remaining, so book fast.
As ever, thank you for being a valued reader and a vital part of the growing Spark community.