Your team is doing challenging work. There are a variety of inputs and frequent conversations. How do you help your team stay focused, effective, and engaged? 1on1s are a vital tool in your leadership toolbox explicitly designed for this purpose.
Consider when you drive; how often do you have to adjust the steering? Even on a relatively straight road, you’re continuously steering. The act of driving is an aggregate of numerous minor corrections to keep your car in the right lane, headed in the right direction, and ultimately arriving at your destination.
Similarly, your team needs ongoing micro-engagements to maintain direction and momentum. 1on1s provide this touchpoint with a consistent structure and rhythm.
I’ve been leading distributed teams since 2016. It’s been a while since my 1on1s were in person. 1on1s become even more critical because someone can’t quickly drop by my desk with their question.
Three methods I’ve used include:
Zoom has been my go-to for 1on1s for quite a while. I’ve often found Google Meet to be a bit glitchy, and since the 1on1 is all about communication, the added cost of Zoom is worth it. And actually, the free version allows for 40-minute meetings, which could help you keep to the 30-minute limit.
The expectation is to have the camera on and email closed (unless they want to discuss an email they received or are drafting). You want the full attention of both people and the ability to read non-verbals through video.
After a year plus of everyone working from home, I’ve used phone calls a little more just to give people a break. You lose out on non-verbal communication, but it can be a caring gesture for those experiencing Zoom fatigue.
Taking a walk was my go-to strategy when I would do 1on1s in person. We’d take a 30-minute walk. We both get a mental break from the desk and screen. This break allowed us to return to the rest of the day with additional energy and focus.
Two issues to be aware of when going on a walk:
Speaking of taking notes. I take notes in Asana for my 1on1s. In board view, I have a column for each team member and cards for each 1on1. This card provides a reference for what we covered which I can come back to later. It also gives me a place to track my follow-up tasks from the meeting. When you commit to doing something to help your team member, and then you forget, it dramatically reduces the effectiveness of the 1on1.
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