I spoke with someone today who was facing a challenge at work and they needed some advice. Sounds normal, right? The problem is that her manager doesn’t have enough time for her. One on ones are rushed, they only include topics led by the manager (not addressing her day to day questions at all), and daily interactions are a rarity.
This is a sad story that many encounter, and it’s time to make a change. What managers don’t seem to consider, is that these are the people they are expecting to meet their goals and numbers, work hard to close deals, and to be the face of the company in front of customers. These reps are the managers customer, and one on ones should be one of the most important meetings of the week. Harvard Business Review reports that employees who don’t have one on ones are four times as likely to be disengaged.
Not only are one on ones an important and critical part of your business relationship, but also your personal one. How often do you find time to know how your teammates are doing outside of work? How are they handling remote work life? How is the problem they had with a burst pipe a few weeks ago? People want to be managed by people, not robots. Oftentimes managers believe there is no time for personal life to get in the way of work, but it’s the way that you listen and empathize with their personal challenges that allow them to perform best at work.
Here are some ways to make the most out of your one on ones:
- Don’t cancel. Again, this is one of your most important meetings. If you’re consistently skipping it, moving it, etc. the rep is inevitably going to realize they are low on the totem pole and feel as though they are not an important part of the team. You need them to be their best, so give them your time.
- Be on time. Similarly to not cancelling, if you’re always running late, you’re cutting into their time. This is time they could have spent closing business.
- This is their meeting. If there are training or coaching opportunities, do it on the sales floor! One on ones should not be a time for you to go over pipelines or deals, those should be left for sales meetings. One on ones should be the reps time. Maybe they want to talk about their deals, or seek feedback on improvement, but maybe they’re having a personal problem and need an ear, or maybe they want to discuss career development. Give them an outlet where it’s their time, their agenda.
- They don’t have to be in person. Don’t let distance keep you apart. Whether you manage a remote team, or are home because your office is still closed, video meetings are just if not more effective.
- Keep a google doc. Let them add topics to it ahead of time that they want to discuss. Sometimes people might be less comfortable bringing something up on the spot, but if they put it down as something they want to cover, it’s less likely to be glazed over. It also allows you to reference back to past weeks and remind yourself to check in on past items that were important.
- Seek feedback. These meetings are also a great time to receive feedback from them. What could you be doing better, how can you best help or support them, what are tools or resources that have been missed that would help them be better? Managers should get very comfortable having the reverse conversions about ways they can improve the way they lead and manage. Otherwise, how are you going to get better?
If you have other ways you’ve found to make the most of one on ones, I’d love to hear. If you’re having trouble getting time with your manager, the best thing you can do is speak up. I’m guessing they don’t realize they’re monopolizing the time, and would hopefully be excited at the fact that you have ideas or topics to address too!