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Making the Most of One-on-One Meetings With Team Members
Good leaders prepare for their weekly meetings with team members. They know the ground they want to cover, the updates they want to receive, and the issues they want to drive home.
One-on-one meetings are an invaluable opportunity for leaders to build relationships, provide guidance, and work through problems with their team members.
Naturally, leaders believe they need to direct the conversation in one-on-one meetings. Managing team members means setting clear expectations and exploring the gaps between performance and goals.
So, leaders set an agenda and explore the issues and topics with an eye toward the feedback they want to deliver. Ultimately, creating more clarity for both parties is the measure of success for one-on-ones.
Study the best leaders and coaches, however, and you will see a markedly different approach to these weekly discussions. They flip the script and require the team member to own and direct the conversation.
By looking at their role as one of resource, experience, and wisdom, they treat the one-on-one meeting as the team member’s time. They promote the idea that this is the team member’s opportunity to discuss and explore what they need to, not the other way around.
The common questions that arise from leaders when team members own the meeting go like this: What would you like to explore or discuss? What clarity can I provide? How can I best help you? What do you need from me? What can I do to make you more productive? What obstacles are in your way?
If these leaders perceive a need to offer direction or to make a point, they save this for the conclusion of the meeting. Once team members have been heard and feel as if their issues and concerns have been addressed, they are far more receptive to learning from the leader what they must do differently.
Asking team members to run the meeting and come fully prepared to discuss their views and needs in one-on-ones is so foreign in some organizations that it may take a few meetings before the switch is actually flipped. But when the role of the leader in these meetings is calibrated to help and listen, rather than direct and impose, great things happen.
You don’t need to be a servant leader to understand that effective leadership puts team members first. Great leaders pull from others more than they push their agendas.
When team members learn the weekly one-on-ones are about their needs and issues, leaders learn much of the feedback they thought they needed to push has already been internalized. What a wonderful way to run a meeting.