If your 1:1s are feeling unfocused, here is an Umbrella Term to refocus your meetings along with specific questions you should be asking.
Do you have this problem?
You want to have a productive conversation with your report about what we are all experiencing and the adjustments we are making…or need to make. But with so many disruptions going on you both lose focus.
You look for language to describe what you’re experiencing, but it seems like each of you are using different vocabulary, like…
- The Pandemic
- National Emergency
- Shelter in Place
- This is crazy!
Your meeting rabbit trails back and forth. Each of you trying to explain to one another what you mean.
So you fumble around, the meeting loses focus and ends up feeling unproductive, for both you and your fellow coworker.
We Need An Umbrella Term
So, what do we call this crazy moment in time that our generation has never experienced before?
What will be our shared vocabulary that will act as our “Umbrella Term”? The term that becomes our catchall for the wide range of disruptions to our daily life that we all are experiencing.
I’ve been calling it “The Great Disruption”. Here’s why.
We all know that we are experiencing disruptions to our daily lives on a scale none of us have ever seen. Leaders, coworkers, customers, suppliers, strangers, cities, states, and entire countries have had their world disrupted in a meaningful way.
No one escapes this disruption.
That makes this Coronavirus Pandemic “great”, like The Great Depression or World War 2.
The Great Disruption is bringing daily challenges that disrupt our routines – from our personal life to our work-life, causing us to lose our focus.
Let “The Great Disruption” become our Umbrella Term that captures all the changing dynamics that force us to make adjustments to how we work.
How to Use an Umbrella Term
Anytime you want to frame your communication regarding how we are adjusting to our new reality I suggest using the umbrella term “The Great Disruption”.
Use the umbrella term in your emails, morning stand-ups, weekly 1:1 meetings, or any kind of employee communication you might have planned.
When you use the umbrella term, “The Great Disruption” it forces your direct reports and colleagues not to exclude themselves from its effect.
You free your team to mobilize and take action when you acknowledge the same challenge using the same language.
Framing Your Next 1:1 Meeting
Using The Great Disruption as a conversation guide to frame your 1:1 meetings is especially helpful.
Leading a guided conversation of discovery will reveal a lot about your direct report’s challenges and what kinds of clarity and direction they need from you.
So how might you as a leader structure a guided conversation during your next 1:1 meeting?
Start by framing the conversation with something like, “The Great Disruption is affecting us all, both our personal life and work life. I’d like to understand how it’s affecting you.”
Then, try using open-ended questions like these to begin your a 1:1 Meeting:
- How are you adjusting to “the great disruption” in your day-to-day life? What’s been the hardest adjustment? What has surprised you?
- How are things different this week from last week? What has been working and not working for you?
- What adjustments are we making that aren’t quite there? How would you tweak them?
Questions that start with “what” and “how” are powerful ways to get your direct reports to open up and share their feelings and experiences.
This will keep your team engaged so they can make the necessary adjustments to what The Great Disruption brings next.