During a recent leadership meeting for a client, we were exploring ways to form connections with individuals who report to us. The client’s goal was to improve employee retention.
One manager suggested, “meet regularly with your reports for 1:1s.”. Heads all nodded in agreement. And so did mine, I’m a big believer in the effectiveness of a regular 1:1s.
But one manager wasn’t nodding along.
“Jennifer,” I asked, “you disagree?”
She answered, “I had a Director who mandated 1:1s and from my experience, they’re a waste of time.”
“Why?”, I asked.
“Because when we met every week, my boss spent most of the time answering emails.”
“Does that happen here…?” I asked knowing it could well have happened within this organization.
Jennifer answered, “No, not here, but that’s why I ended up coming to this organization.”
You Can’t Form Connections while Distracted
In this case, the Director took a proven leadership practice, like 1:1s, and made it ineffective.
The purpose of 1:1s is to form a connection between you and your report.
Part of the reason for having a 1:1 in the first place is to give your report your undivided attention.
A 1:1 is your dedicated time to slow down, listen intently to the issues your report cares deeply about, and understand their point of view.
The moment you check your email or let someone interrupt your meeting, you’ve sabotaged your leadership.
Any trust you had built up instantly vanishes and your report will feel you don’t care about them, and their issues.
No Screens Policy During 1:1s
You may be thinking, “I would never do that.”
In the last 72 hours, I have shared this story with four employees from four different companies.
Three of the four told me, “that’s what my boss does”
That’s why I recommend a NO SCREENS POLICY during your 1:1s. Screens being Monitors, Laptops, Tablets, or Phones.
Make a sign, have it printed, and place it on your desk during your 1:1s. Include it in your calendar invite in bold letters. And allow your report to hold you accountable to the policy.
However you roll out the policy, you must insist on No Screens for thirty minutes during your 1:1.
By simply removing the temptation to get distracted you will improve the effectiveness of your 1:1s and prevent yourself from sabotaging your leadership.
I shared my No Screens policy, what’s yours? How do you keep your 1:1s distraction free?