As a business leader, you know your focus must be on the customer 100% of the time.
What about the people looking after the customer? – Our Employees.
How often do you spent time with individual employees and engage in a structured one-on-one conversation with your Employees?
In this article, Valerie Cecil outlines 6 benefits of regularly scheduling time to have meaningful one-on-one conversations with your Employees.
The Benefits of One-on-One Conversation for a Leader
One-on-one conversations with Employees can dramatically increase effective communication and job output. It is known to improve Employee productivity and the overall working environment.
Personalized Feedback from the Leader Increase Productivity
One-on-one conversations devote sole attention to each employee respectively. In group situations, its difficult (many times improper) to isolate a single employee. However, in intimate settings, you as the leader can candidly relay feedback, providing direct, unfettered attention to a given employee. It’s difficult to assess whether an employee is doing well or not when the leader relays broad messages like, “I’m happy with the sales team” or, “The sales team needs to step it up.” Personalized feedback allows an employee to know how they are performing as an individual, even though he or she might be part of a team.
Determining Employee Goals and Engagement in Your Business
One-on-one conversations allow the leader to see the big picture regarding a given employee’s goals and ambitions. You can get answers to questions like:
- Does a particular employee want to be a manager?
- Do the Employee see a career path for him or her in the business?
- What are the career goals and aspirations of an Employee?
As the business leader, you won’t know unless you spend quality time asking them, relaying the sentiment of your interest in them and their future in your business. One-on-one meetings allow you to associate particular employees with long-term or short-term strategies.
Getting to the Truth
It is most often easier for people to address specific problems during a one-on-one conversationn than in a group. This might be because it’s improper or just uncomfortable, for Employees to publicly address issues or say what they’re thinking. This could regard topics about as you as the leader, a co-worker, specific processes or problem customers.
Aside, from coming to know particular truths, which is advantageous, you as the leader can express the importance of knowing what the employee thinks about a given topic.
Show Your Human Side as Leader
This is an opportunity to show your human side as the leader. Depending on the structure of your business, employees often see you as at a distance, someone at the top and not as a person just like them.
While it’s necessary to command authority, it’s very important employees feel comfortable in your presence, seeing you as approachable and someone they can effectively communicate with. One-on-one conversations express the sentiment you are both equals as people, although in different positions in the business.
Team goals and expectations are very easy to communicate. This often has the effect of leaving Employees feeling like just a cog in the wheel. It is however important to communicate the individual expectations from an Employees as part of the team.
It’s likely your feedback will influence their professional behavior one way or another. However, without the given opportunity, you’ll get the same behavior while they’re left in the dark. One-on-one conversations give employees the opportunity to know what is expected of them in addition to the broad expectations of the team. You may find a mediocre employee becomes a star after you tell them you think they have more in them to contribute. A little encouragement or critique can go a long way.
Identifying Strengths, Improving Weaknesses
One-one-one conversations become a great platform to discuss strengths and weaknesses as seen from both sides. You may think a candidate is primed for managerial promotion. After a one-on-one conversation, you may find becoming a manager is the furthest thing from what the Employee sees as a strength. The Employee might have ambitions to become an expert in their field, rather than having the burden of managing people.
Alternatively, poor performance in an Employee might be the result of working in an area not complimenting his or her strengths. The information gathered through one-on-one conversations often help you as the leader to develop better strategies, enabling you to see employees as individuals, rather than lumped together in a group.
When last did you schedule time to have a structured conversation with your direct reports?
How did one-on-one conversations help you to be a better leader?
About the Author: Valerie Cecil is a writer for Outbounding.com.