Manager’s Toolkit: One-on-Ones

Aug 31, 2021 | Culture/wellbeing

In the first in a new blog series ‘Manager’s Toolkit”, we look at how to ensure One-on-Ones are beneficial to both manager and employee.

In the modern workplace, good managers are not merely pushing business needs forward, they need to both motivate and help hone employee performance. By taking a human-centric coaching approach, a good manager can not only motivate but also help a direct report to leverage their unique strengths. An efficient way to properly support direct reports is to nurture good 1-on-1 habits. This blog post introduces you to the three As — alignment, accountability, and accessibility — of good 1-on-1s.

1. Alignment

A considerable obstacle for meeting performance goals is… not knowing what those goals are. Yes, many employees — about half of them — are not certain about what is asked from them at work. Employees should always know what is expected of them, how much, and when. Using 1-on-1s can ensure that both you and your employees are well aligned, and that clear expectations and goals are established. Because 1-on-1 is a unique opportunity to get personal, use this time to check employee morale. Dive deeper into how aligned they feel with where a certain project is going or if there is any feedback they have for you.

Good questions to ask:

What’s one thing I can do to make work better for you?
What’s your outlook on next week/month?
Am I providing you with enough clarity on our direction?

2. Accountability

A good manager sets expectations and then sticks around for the outcome. When Gallup analysed the link between accountability and engagement, they found that employees tend to be more engaged with their work if they feel that their manager holds them accountable for their performance. To nurture the right kind of accountability, first ensure you are accountable for your own behaviours and deadlines. Show up prepared and on time. Support your team when they need it. In addition, use your 1-on-1s to agree on milestones that have measurable targets. This way, if a target slips, you two can jump on it right away.

Good questions to ask:

Do you believe you receive sufficient feedback?
What are your biggest time wasters right now?
How should we respond if things go off-course?

3. Accessibility

As a leader, you should keep in mind that not all problems are your problems. While it might be tempting to try solving every issue for your direct reports, this will soon prove infeasible. As an alternative, be accessible to your employees. Do not attempt to solve every little thing. Rather, be there and actively help him or her solve it. Use your 1-on-1s to really hear the employee’s concerns, plans, and aspirations from the job. Knowing your employees better will help you accurately gauge the depth of the issue they may be facing. Then you two can together agree on the best plan to address those issues as fast as possible.

Good questions to ask:

Does work feel energizing or draining to you right now?
After a roadblock, how do you pick yourself up again?
What can help you work better? Is it more time? Tools?

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