The Best Tool to Improve the Performance of Your Team: One-on-One Meetings

Most people agree that a weekly team meeting is common practice for most leaders and managers – critical for ensuring that company goals are being achieved, and the team is cohesive and aligned around the most important things in the company.

As important, are one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. Done well, they are an incredibly effective tool:

    • To make sure they are on track to achieve their top goals for the quarter, month and week
    • To provide personalized leadership to each team member, to ensure they not only continue to learn and grow and to help them to move quickly through their biggest challenges
    • To get granular about solving tactical issues and allow time for team members to bring up struggles and challenges they may not be comfortable doing, in front of others
    • To get a sense of how they’re doing personally and identifying anything else that you might need to know to help them to be at their best
    • To talk about the company’s biggest opportunities, to provide context and to recalibrate when needed.

I’ve seen hundreds of instances where a highly committed A Player was pulled away from a $1,000,000 opportunity because they were chasing a $1,000 opportunity or consumed with fixing a $1,000 problem.

No matter how smart or committed you are, it’s very easy, in the heat of the moment, to get distracted and if you don’t have that regular forum to recalibrate you can end up running in circles.

A leader’s job is to ensure that their team members have everything they need to achieve their goals and thrive.

One CEO we work with said he found the biggest difference in improving the quality of his weekly one-on-ones – and establish a better and more trusting relationship – is when he is authentic and open about his own challenges and things that he’s working on.

He also said that, although he set aside an hour for each team member, some team members only needed five to fifteen minutes.

Sometimes, a week or two can be missed but if you don’t have a rhythm of talking about the obstacles or challenges, every week, you won’t have a forum to talk candidly.

Keep a Regular Rhythm

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of not doing weekly meetings, especially with your best people, because high performing A Players are generally very good at figuring out what they need to do.

But without a regular meeting discipline, it makes it harder for some high performers to come to you if they are too proud to admit that they have a problem.

Both A Players and lower performers benefit from collaboration with thought partner: to hear their leader’s thoughts and perspectives that help them to solve problems more quickly, to maximize opportunities or to prioritize issues in dynamic environments.

Of course, you can still have a great relationship without regular one-on-one time. But sooner or later it will catch up with you when you’re no longer aligned around the table or need to solve key issues quickly and effectively.

A Sample Weekly 1-1 Agenda 

  1. Check in

– Where are you at this week 0-10 (Work, Self/Resilience & Life)

– Wins & progress

  1. KPIs and Quarter Goals

– Current status and trend

– Challenges, stucks & needed resources

– Next steps to ensure all on track to being achieved

  1. Discussion / Troubleshooting

  2. Working Together

– What else can I assist you with?

– How can I be a better manager and/or resource for you?

  1. Confirm Decisions/ WWW

The Challenge

    • If you are having weekly one-on-one meetings with all your team leaders, what’s working well and how could you make them better?
    • If you’re not, which team members do you think would benefit most, if you started and why?

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