Several years ago I was introduced to the podcasts over at Manager Tools. Full disclosure I gain in absolutely no way from endorsing Manager Tools. But we all collectively gain when our field is full of good, efficient and effective managers.
The folks at Manager Tools stress one tool more than any other: One-on-one meetings. Sure – you may think – I talk to my team all the time. This is a little different. This is a structured, regularly scheduled (weekly is ideal) meeting with each one of your direct reports.
I have been performing structured one-on-one meetings as described by Manager Tools for 4-5 years and the time is well invested in the relationship with your direct reports. On Thursday I asked my twitter stream “Interested in hearing from folks that have regularly scheduled 1on1s with their direct reports. Worth the time? Benefits?” I got some great replies.
The first reply was from Gavin Henning, Senior Research Analyst in the Office of Institutional Research at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, U.S. Gavin indicated that one-one-ones are absolutely worth the time and said the meetings are a great opportunity to give updates and get direction from your supervisor. He also indicated how important it is to have a consistent time to connect and the importance of both direct and supervisor contributing agenda items.
I was very grateful to get replies from hall directors to vice-president student affairs. Although I can’t share all the comments I received via twitter the overwhelming majority where in support of one-on-ones. Rachel Barreca, a Canadian higher education professional who has for several years worked in the United Kingdom. Rachel indicated that the one-on-one meetings were a great way to know your direct reports better and check-in with them personally. Rachel also described one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to solve problems, discuss professional development opportunities as well as a provide feedback and direction.
You may be thinking to yourself – I have SO many staff. I can’t possibly meet with all of them weekly. Why not? As a manager or supervisor it is your job to ensure your team performs. If you work 35, 45, or even 55 hours per week – 30 minutes with each direct report is not very much time. Think of it like this: 10 direct reports x 30 minutes would only be 5 hours. Only 12% of a 40 hour work week. If you don’t currently supervise full-time staff and you have a big team of part-time staff this may be more challenging. It may make sense to meet bi-weekly or less frequently with part-timers. However if you have 5-8 or less full-time staff you should have no trouble finding the time if you schedule it consistently from now till forever in your calendar.
I suggest you head on over to Manager Tools to the listen to their podcast on one-on-ones.
A little one-on-one summary
Absolutely worth the time invested!
Purpose: To develop and strengthen a professional relationship with your direct reports.
Format: 10 minutes for them, 10 minutes for you, 10 minutes for the future (coaching, professional development, growth, etc)
What are your thoughts on one-on-ones? If you have tricks and tips for one-on-ones please leave them in the comments.
Chad Nuttall is Manager, Student Housing Services (CHO) at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.