By: Ron Guest, Senior Partner, TwoGreySuits www.twogreysuits.com
Ok, I know you’ve all been waiting for this. What will companies be doing in 2018 that will improve manager-employee relationships and bottom-line profits while at the same time increasing morale and productivity and lowering turnover?
Drum roll please….
Companies will be talking to their employees! I know I know, you’re already doing that, right. But, what I mean is that structured purposeful one-to-one meetings with managers and employees will become much more commonplace in 2018 and for companies already doing this, they will certainly want to increase the quality of these one-to-one communications. These meetings will be scheduled and also somewhat scripted in terms of what normally is discussed. Organizations that truly want to get ahead of the curve will be providing their managers with training on how to properly provide feedback and how to coach/manage employees and how to do effective one-on-ones.
This is about to become so common in business that the annual performance review will eventually become extinct in its current form. Employees will certainly be happy about this and eventually employers will too, as they see things changing in a very positive way in terms of employee commitment and productivity.
Regular one-to-one meetings give managers the opportunity to provide real time feedback so there will be an increased likelihood of changing employee behavior and reinforcement of the good behaviors.
I have had my fair share of 1:1’s over my career, both receiving and providing. If a 1:1 is done properly employees should leave the meeting feeling motivated, supported, valued, inspired and clear about their responsibilities and how they are doing. If not done well employees will feel helpless, like they are being judged, and may feel like their efforts are not appreciated, and in many cases, will decide to seek other employment. Structured one-to-ones are the perfect opportunity for coaching (understanding employee thought processes and perceived barriers) and also to shape employee behavior by offering constructive and also positive feedback.
The value of managers doing one-to-ones properly is the most powerful/impactful and controllable thing a manager can do in managing people – there I said it!!!
So, what do you talk about in a one-to-one???
This is a business meeting, you talk business; what are they working on, accomplishments, what about progress to goals set, any problems, barriers, ask how you can help. In fact ask how you can help at every one-to-one, so employees know the question is coming. More importantly, when they ask for help, make sure you do indeed help them. Here you find out what drives them, what motivates or demotivates them, what energizes them, what fears or worries do they have, what ideas do they have? This is also the time we provide positive feedback for things they are doing well, so this behavior is repeated in future. We also provide constructive feedback to seek a change in behavior. This can often involve showing them a better or more efficient way of completing a task they do routinely.
Essentially the one-to-one is the best place to build the foundation of a strong relationship between manager and employee. Be prepared to tell any company news so that the person is not hearing it through the grapevine. For new employees, very good idea to ask retention type questions such as: Is this job turning out as you expected? Why or why not? What is it that your last company did that we should consider doing here?
The ideal ono-to-one is casual and conversational and documented. It’s also consistent, and that consistency is what develops trust and also preparedness for both parties. Employees should prepare for the meeting by having their goal status ready and to ask any questions or seek help or advice from the manager.
Another reason I predict companies will be taking one-to-ones more seriously is also because managers are starting to understand the link between highly engaged employees and the quality of the direct relationship employees have with their manager. (#1 driver of Employee Engagement) It is somewhat surprising to me that there are still many managers out there who truly do not know what employee engagement is, but it is changing. The world-wide research is so compelling of the link between profitability and highly engaged employees, that managers at some point will not have a choice to ignore the key drivers of having a highly engaged workforce.
Subscribers to TwoGreySuits can access significant information about one-to-ones in the Performance Management module. Access is $595/year for companies or sometimes it is free if your trade Association signs a licensing agreement with TwoGreySuits.