Going “One on One” with Your Team

Are you a manager or a leader? Most people will answer that they are a leader but spend most of their time with vendors, reports, inventories and process compliance. Although those are all important duties they aren’t leadership duties; we manage processes and inventory but you lead people.  So how much of your day is spent with the members on your team?  The main duty we have as a leader of a team is to make our people better.  An important tool in helping our people improve is doing a frequent “one on one” performance improvement plan. The problem with most leaders today is that they were led by managers and not true leaders so they have no role models to emulate and don’t know how to use this important tool. Fortunately as with most skills, how to conduct a quality “one on one” can be learned.  So what is the process of conducting a good “one on one”?  A good “one on one” has four components and should be done in the following order..

PERSONAL MATTERS: Start out every review finding out what is going on with them personally. It isn’t just about business; we are dealing with people who have fears, feelings and frustrations.  People don’t care what you have to say until they know how much your care.  Knowing how a team member is feeling about outside influences could explain under performances as well as being a motivator to help improve performance or a reason to hit stretch goals.

PRAISE: People no matter their experience, position or age desire recognition and the best way to recognize someone is to give them sincere praise. All too often managers spend the day pointing out what people are doing wrong; leaders catch people doing things right.  The quickest way to establish positive work habits is to praise and recognize people when they are exhibiting those habits, especially if that praise can be given in front of their peers.

IMPROVEMENT: As leaders we owe it to our team to show them the areas in which they need to improve. By not being brutally honest with people we could be denying them the opportunity to get better. This honesty is often not shared because of not wanting to hurt people’s feelings but this “compassion” in the long run is actually cruel because you allow your team to labor in mediocrity and not reach their full potential. When pointing out the areas of improvement be prepared with precise examples, we want to have a business meeting and not just a discussion of generalities. Finally remember to be critical of the actions and not the person, we don’t want the meeting to become adversarial but to become advantageous for growth.

FOLLOW UP: If you are doing a performance meeting with a salesperson find out how you can help them generate more business. A leader doesn’t say “Go” a leader says “Let’s Go!”. Pick the phone up and make some calls for your team mate, by making these calls with them you can show them how you want it done as well as showing you care and you want them to succeed. Finally, set a time up for following up with them to measure the progress that they have made in the areas that you agreed with them that needed improvement and be sure to keep that appointment.

These “one on ones” should be conversational in nature and can be done over a period of time with those who are performing well and are just trying to reach the next levels. But these meetings need to be scheduled and have a game plan; when done the leader should be exhausted because they aren’t easy! Many average performers can grow into outstanding performers if given the opportunity, support and training. As leaders we should be creating more leaders.


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