I had been meaning to hold scheduled one-on-one meetings with the managers in my company for a long time, as I know they are highly effective.
Because I spoke with everyone almost every day to some degree, I had not added these sessions to my schedule. I also felt like I had so much work to do to set up new teams, train managers, and lead the company’s growth that I could not handle one more meeting. Nonetheless, I have started holding these sessions, and I admit that I am incredibly pleased with the way they are going. As with anything highly recommended, I knew that I would not regret starting this process.
The one-on-one meetings are helping me evolve as a manager. Because I have been more of a problem solver in the past, I want to transition to more of a coaching style. I want to improve in this skillset, so I have been relying heavily on the questions introduced by Michael Bungay Stainer in The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever (public library), (please see – How to Build Teams Successfully and Know When to Let Go for more about the book). The seven questions are:
- What’s on your mind?
- And what else?
- What’s the real challenge here for you?
- What do you want?
- How can I help?
- If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?
- What was most useful for you?
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, Michael Bungay Stainer
The idea is to listen as much as I can and to speak as little as possible. It is easy to believe that we have all the answers, but it is often in the company’s best interest to develop our teams to help the company evolve in new ways. One of my main goals for my company, Celaque, is to hire great people. My most important goal, therefore, is to help these individuals grow.
How the Meetings Work
During these one-on-ones, I go through the questions listed above. I’ll start with: “What’s on your mind?” In this part, the person starts to talk about everything they are dealing with, either personally or professionally.
The meetings felt new and unknown during the first couple of rotations, but as we both got more practice, it became more fluid. Now I listen to all the issues that are coming up, which tend to be many and varied. We then start to zero in on the most important issue and take steps to address it. I try to focus on one or two things to work on between sessions, usually the most important challenges.
We then move through the rest of the questions. Sometimes I skip ahead to a question or even repeat one. According to Stainer, the most magical question is, “And what else?” I use it as often as I can. Before jumping in with a solution, I try to refrain and ask if there is anything else the person would like to say.
In the end, I always make sure to ask what was most useful to them. According to Stainer, it helps them learn more, but I have found an added benefit for myself: I get instant feedback. I learn more about them and how I can be most helpful.
These one-on-one sessions have been very instructive. Here are some of the benefits I have found so far:
- Learn others’ point-of-view: Because we start with what is on their mind, I learn about the main issues from their perspective, not from what I imagine is going on.
- More listening: Most of the time, when we interact, we are solving problems, so one-on-one sessions are a special time when people can feel heard. Feeling listened to is priceless to work out anything that is on our mind.
- Become a coach: One-on-one sessions are a good time to look at issues in-depth. We have a chance to solve problems, and they can talk it all out with someone who knows the context and is uniquely positioned to help.
- Invest in the future: We do not often take the time to invest in our teams and situations because we are constantly going from one issue to the other. Sometimes we may be solving the superficial problems, but not their root causes. In these conversations, we take the time to work on situations that will have a long-lasting impact and help us avoid many more tiny problems from cropping up.
If you have not started one-on-one meetings with your team, I recommend them. They will help you and your team have open communication and allow your company to operate and grow more smoothly.
Stanier, Bungay, Michael. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever. Page Two, 1st edition, February 29, 2016. E-book.