Let Your Team Lead Your One-on-Ones

I can’t overstate the importance of having one-on-ones. Yet, I’m familiar with all the excuses we (me included) can find not to have one-on-ones…we’re too busy, we already talk often, we meet as a team, and the list goes on.

Two points: First, we can never be too busy to have set-aside time with the people we directly lead. And second, your one-on-ones should be led by your teammates, not you. Teach your teammates how to prepare for and lead your one-on-ones. They’ll take ownership of the meetings, and it will free you up to lead, rather than manage them.

How you teach your people to prepare for your one-on-ones differs based on roles, but here are some general recommendations:

  • Allow him or her to bring the agenda for what you cover in your meeting. In doing so, hopefully your employee will get the guidance they need from you, and you’ll get a clear picture of their priorities and what’s on their plate.
  • Be available and focused. Minimize the distractions (electronic and human) so your employee has your full attention.
  • Ask questions. It’s tempting to get stuck in “tell mode,” where you answer questions instead of offer guidance. The more you ask questions and help your employee think through decisions (versus telling them what to do), the more equipped your employee will be to handle similar situations without your direct involvement in the future.
  • Share the big picture. This is a needed perspective you bring to the meetings. What do they need to know on a global scale outside of their weekly task lists? How can you help them gain a better perspective on what the coming year will look like?

If you struggle with having consistent one-on-ones because you feel burdened by all the prep time involved, don’t. Empower your direct report to prepare for and drive your one-on-ones. It’s an opportunity that allows both of you to grow.

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