“I am so glad you insisted I meet with my reports once a week. I resisted it for so long, but now I can’t imagine leading without our weekly one-on-ones.”
This was some recent feedback I’d received that made my day.
You see, I’d been working with a group of eight first-time leaders inside a company for the past twelve weeks. My task was to equip these leaders with the day-to-day practices to move them from “managers of work” to “leaders of people”. (A common challenge in most organizations)
And this particular first-time leader was giving me trouble. She was extremely resistant when I would insist that she start having Weekly, 30-Minute, One-On-Ones with her reports.
Even though she was struggling to lead her nine reports, she always had an Excuse for why she couldn’t start doing her one-on-ones.
It wasn’t until one of her best performers unexpectedly quit on her that was she willing to give my advice a try.
To which she discovered her excuses were the thing holding her back from becoming a successful leader. When she let go of the excuses she was able to start making the transitions from a “manager of work” to a “leader of people”.
Her reaction to doing one-on-ones is not uncommon. I hear all kinds of excuses from first-time leaders and seasoned veterans alike.
Here are the top three excuses I hear for not doing one-on-ones with their reports and how to get past them.
1. I’m Too Busy
I’m too busy to spend 4+ hours a week meeting with people one-on-one. How will I get anything done?
This is the #1 excuse I hear from leaders for not wanting to have weekly one-on-ones with their reports.
And I get it. When I say you need to meet Weekly, for 30 Minutes, One-on-One all you hear is that you are going to have less time in the week get your work done.
But what you’re not thinking about is how often you are interrupted by your reports during the week. Interruptions that may be Important to your report, but are not Urgent to you.
When you have regular, weekly, one-on-ones your reports learn to save up their questions for their next one-on-one with you.
This limits interruptions and in the end, Saves You Time!
2. We Already Talk All the Time
I see my reports all the time so there is no need to meet. Plus my door is always open if they want to talk.
I hear some version of this from most leaders. You feel your department/team is performing pretty well and everyone gets along so there’s no reason to meet with everyone individually.
You would be right if you only viewed your job as a “manager of work”. But your job is to be a “leader of people” and that requires that you make deeper connections with your reports that go beyond just getting work done.
The weekly, 30-minute, one-on-one is not just a time to discuss the work that needs done. It is a time to for you learn about what your reports care about outside of work and get to know them each on a personal level.
When you establish a connection with each of your reports it becomes harder for them to unexpectedly quit on you (like the first-time leader from above).
Leading your people with one-on-ones helps you Retain Your People!
3. I Don’t Want To Be A Micro-Manager
If I ask my reports to meet weekly they will think I’m micro-managing them and resent me for it.
You would be right if you spent your weekly one-on-one micro-managing your reports work. But your weekly one-on-one meeting is Not Your Meeting!
The weekly, 30-minute, one-on-one is your reports meeting. It is the one guaranteed time a week they get to ask questions, raise concerns, discuss their future, directly with their boss (aka You!).
You will be surprised what happens when you start holding regular one-on-ones with your reports. By the fourth or fifth week, your reports will be coming up to you randomly to tell you they are looking forward to their next one-on-one with you.
The weekly one-on-one makes your report feel Their Opinion Matters!
Have More Fun Leading
After the first-time leader, I described earlier, began holding her weekly one-on-ones with her reports, she started to see their benefit.
Then one week she came to me and said, “In the beginning, I thought your idea to have one-on-ones was stupid, but now I can admit I was wrong. And not only was I wrong, but this is the most fun I’ve had being a leader.”
She was having more fun because she felt connected to her people, and in turn, her people felt more connected to her.
What excuses have you heard that are holding back your leaders?
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