Spending time with our teams is an essential part of being a leader. This has never been more true than in our post pandemic hybrid world.
Time spent with team members does not have to be face to face, virtual works just as well. it is not HOW we connect with our teams, it is WHY that matters.
During Covid we heard lots and lots of discussions about the importance of checking in to see how people are. This still stands, just because people may not be struggling with isolation or pressure of a pandemic world doesn’t mean we should not be taking time to check if people are ok.
However, our 1:1’s have to become more than this.
Our Teams Deserve More
Time spent personally with our boss is super important. It helps people to feel important, valued and appreciated for what they do – 3 very basic yet critical emotions. It also signifies that we are a priority to our manager. Consider the inverse. I rarely if ever get 1:1 time with my manager. What does that signify?
Well it might say I am trusted and they have faith in me. That’s probably the most positive emotion. It also says they are too busy for me, what they prioritise is more important than I am. They simply don’t care enough about me to find the time to speak to me.
What happens when those 1:1’s are consumed with task focussed work updates centred on your core objectives? Well again this helps the manager to stay on top of things in their team, and it shows an interest in the progress you are making. It however, also signifies that I am really only interested in what you can do for me or deliver rather than you as a person. It indicates that as long as the job is getting done, well nothing more matters.
What should we be doing to lead our teams?
We should have 4 levels of meetings with our teams on a regular basis. The 4 levels require different frequencies and each should be an independent session from the others.
Level 1: The Check In
The purpose of the check in is to ensure that the individual in question is feeling OK, has everything they need to be able to perform in their role and is aware that you are there to support and help them. These should happen numerous times a week, they need not last more than a few minutes at a time.
The Check in should include the following elements – 1) Asking team member how they are doing personally; 2) Asking them if they require any support; 3) Asking them if they are waiting on or need you to make any decisions or if they need anything from you.
Level 2: The Progress Update
Specific time should be set aside for an update on key projects where you can both have a deep dive into progress, challenges and discussions on priorities. Led by the team member the role of the manager is to ask questions, seek clarification and provide support as needed. The progress update should happen weekly – normally it should take no longer than 30 mins.
Level 3: The Coaching Conversation
This conversation is focussed on the person NOT the work. It is placing the team member front and centre and is designed to help them to grow as an individual. Whilst it will touch on work activities and projects this is more about how they are developing as an individual. This conversation is about taking interest in what they are learning. How they are overcoming challenges. What short term goals and objectives they might have. The development needs they have and how they might look to take action on these. How they have taken action and are making plans to invest in their own learning and growth. Their interests and passions. The things they are getting excited about. The Coaching conversation should happen at least one a month and will last 30 – 60 mins. It should NOT be connected to a Progress Update (Level 2) discussion
Level 4: Career conversations
The final level is the career conversation. This is a discussion about the long term aims and goals that the team member has. This conversation is focussed on what they want to achieve in the mid to long term. he career conversation helps the team member to focus on projects and learning that is going to enhance their personal and professional growth, and ensures they recognise your long term investment in them as a person and not just what they deliver. This conversation should look for opportunities to expose the team member to new experiences and responsibilities so that they can test and explore how they want to build their role moving forward. The Career discussion should happen each quarter – this provides enough scope for actions to happen and feedback to be gained between discussions.