By Kevin Eikenberry, co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute.
It’s critical that you conduct regular one-on-one sessions with your employees (even if one is located in London, another in Australia, one in California, and one across the hall from you).
While scheduling, planning and executing these sessions is a bit tougher for leaders of virtual and hybrid teams, you can’t skimp on this important duty. Meeting “face-to-face” via video chat allows you to:
- Keep track of progress on both processes and projects
- Create time to answer team members questions and offer guidance
- Provide for real-time problem solving
- Maintain focus on the important priorities
- Build and strengthen relationships with each team member
- Offer performance-improving feedback and coaching
- Ask for employees feedback on how you are doing and how the team is functioning
It’s no doubt that you should be making time to meet with each of your employees one-on-one regularly. so follow these tips to make the most of those sessions:
Gain buy-in and set expectations
Because some employees may see regular sessions as a negative, discuss why doing so is important. As a group, explain why you will be setting up these on-on-ones on a regular basis. Talk about your purpose and desire for the meetings and how you expect employees to contribute. Once you have emphasized the benefits of the meetings, ask everyone to commit to making them a valuable use of your time.
Determine how often you will meet
I am often asked how often should you meet with the members of your team. My answer is that it depends! It depends on the nature of the work, the experience level of your team members, their competence and confidence and much more. Once you have set clear expectations, set a frequency of meeting. And as you go along, occasionally check to see if the frequency is working for both of you, and adjust if it isn’t.
Require employees to prepare as hard as you do
Each session belongs to you and the employee. If you both execute the session well, you both will benefit. That is why both parties need to come to the meeting prepared. Hold each other accountable for coming to the sessions with progress and status updates in hand, along with a list of questions, concerns and topics to cover.
Make it a conversation
Since the meeting belongs to both of you, please (please!) don’t do all the talking. The best way to ensure that you don’t do all the talking is to ask employees to speak first. If the conversation stalls, ask questions to keep employees going. If you plan your questions, you won’t be lost for words, so list some questions specific for each employee, but also ask these questions:
- How are things going?
- How can I help?
- What barriers are in the way?
- What would you suggest?
- What have you already tried?
- What feedback do you have for me?
Share specific feedback during every session
The biggest problem with performance management in organizations today is that too many managers provide feedback just once a year during the performance review. Consider your one-on-ones as prime opportunities to provide feedback (both positive and negative) all year long. It’s a much better way to maintain excellent performance and improve weaknesses than waiting for the year-end performance review. For advice on how to conduct feedback and coach sessions, join us on January 18th for our virtual instructor-led training on this critical skill!
How often do you meet with your virtual team members one-on-one? Describe your process in the comments below.