It’s a tool that every leader and co-worker can adopt that will improve your leadership effectiveness and help your direct reports perform better and advance toward their potential. It is the 30 Minute One-on-One conducted weekly (or no less than every other week) with a structured agenda and expectations for the meeting. As you know, we have the utmost respect for Vistage, the world’s leading chief executive organization with over 13,000 members. We learned about this tool and how it is executed while listening to their podcast conducted by Bruce Breier, a subject matter expert around executive organization. Implementing this exercise will enhance the degree to which you are leading each direct report with clarity, and enables you to offer timely and consistent feedback, while also processing the “why” and applying core values to real life situations that arise for co-workers translating to coaching opportunities every week. Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods is always stressing the importance of understanding this performance dynamic learned from Steven Covey, “Ambiguity breeds mediocrity; clarity breeds excellence.” The structure of the tool makes it a very effective tool. Let’s process how it is optimally executed.
Outline of Podcast Presentation
Michael Iseman and I listened carefully to the podcast and outlined how the One-on-Ones are structured. You will also find a link to the podcast and we encourage you to listen to the full podcast, a portion of which Bruce lays out the importance of every leader investing 30 minutes every week with every direct report and the best practice for executing them. Here is the outline:
Weekly 30 Minute One-on-One Meetings with Direct Reports: A Structured Activity – Recommended Agenda for Your One-on-Ones
1. Updates and Progress Reports - direct report presents this to supervisor. This is the responsibility of your direct report. They are to come prepared to update you on their job and the status of any projects they have been assigned.
2. Problems, Questions & Counsel - direct report delivers these items and supervisor provides guidance and coaching. They should come prepared with questions about the philosophy or the policies of your organization. Each of these questions should have with it a proposed answer. “This is an issue I’m having, and this is how I think it should be solved.” When practiced regularly, employees stop bringing these non-crucial issues to their managers and are better equipped to handle them on their own.
3. Delegation - Supervisor delegates new tasks that he has held until this meeting for both party’s effectiveness; delegation is clear. Note: By the time agenda items 1, 2 and 3 are complete, the leader can offer input to the direct report to further emphasize or update / adjust which activities are most important and of the top priorities how each one ranks. Result: each direct report has a clear sense (clarity) of his or her opportunity to execute on the right tasks that deliver the most value to the organization.
This is your opportunity to give them tasks, letting them know what to do, and when you want it completed by.These can be tasks that have accumulated over the week for you, or in response to any updates or problems that have come up in the one-on-one.
4. Miscellaneous - invest some portion of the 30 minutes (5 to 8 minutes) discussing family, personal interests and activities that help us sharpen our saw and considers one another’s activities beyond work (in pursuit of work-life balance) Weather, sports, family, vacation, or anything else that may have come up that you would like to address. Just ensure that the one-on-one ends on a positive note.
What the Experts Say: Vistage 500 Speaker, Bruce Breier
Bruce Breier is an expert in executive organization and has been a Vistage 500 member since 1985. So that every direct report may recognize their true potential, he recommends having weekly one-on-ones. Below is the structured agenda that he recommends for these weekly 30-minute meetings.
Key Takeaway: How many direct reports should one leader have?
No more than 6 Helpful tips for One-on-Ones:
- Give them your undivided attention, no multitasking.
- Set the meetings at a particular time and day each week, and do your best not to reschedule.
- Follow-up after the meeting is over, even if it’s just an email.
- Be sure to give feedback; people want to know if they’re doing a good job.