The Value of One:One discussions

Good evening everyone! — I guess good morning depending on what part of the world you are in (lol)

It’s been quite some time since my last leadership blog. I spent the summer connecting with my family and also helping out people that were impacted by the flooding in the Calgary area this summer. That being said, I have had a lot of time to reflect on many things in my life and one of the first things I would like to share with you are “connections” through 1:1s in the workplace and at home.

Connecting with my 5 year old son is very interesting. He is at a stage in his life where the discussions are extremely interesting. He’s inquisitive, fearless, rational, and…. wait for it… he has an opinion on everything! Not really different from people you might deal with in business life.

So with this introduction let me set the stage for our topic today — One to Ones

Whether you are dealing with family members or business co-workers/colleagues, we all have to communicate and connect with various people. One:Ones (1:1) are a typical tool to allow 2 people to connect. Unfortunately, everyone has a different perception of what this means. Some take 1:1 time as an opportunity to work on tactical problems — business issues or a family issue like cleaning up your bedroom. Although, that may be fine for most people, I personally call those “worksessions”. Worksessions are things that we can have on an ad-hoc basis and is intended to work out details of a task/activity. It can be done in a 1:1 setting or a group setting.

One:ones, on the other hand, is something that is different —- at least for this blog. In this context, 1:1’s are about connecting with the “Person” and building a relationship with him/her. For me, it’s about personal growth and career/family planning. My wife and I need to find time to talk about “how we are doing as a person”, not just tactical things like whether to enroll our kids in swimming, skating, or skiing? See the difference? There is not objective here other than to support the growth of the other person.

In the business world, it’s important (to me and those that I coach) that I provide mentorship and coaching to each of you on a regular basis. We are all have busy schedules, but one of the most important things I think we individually need to do is take time to reflect and grow. Essentially, taking our head out of the daily grind (or the Whirlwind as Covey puts it), to look at the bigger picture — in this case your health and growth! Setting up 1:1s are an important tool that can support this journey — surprisingly this works for family members and co-workers in the business place just the same!

Here are some guidelines that may help:

Appropriate topics for discussion:

  • Structured time to connect with coach/mentor. This is not about problem solving but rather reflection and then discussions about how we can grow.
  • This time is for you! We can talk about your experiences, life desires, personal and business.
  • Talk about career development, interim performance review and compensation review (if applicable)
  • Check in on progress of Annual bonusable goals or other incentives. Be creative here.
  • Talk about life at your place of employment (what are you enjoying and what are your challenges)

Inappropriate topics:

  • Tactical Operational problem solving (unless being used as an example to drive out personal growth as above) — We should schedule separate meetings for that

Benefits of Monthly 1:1

  • Connection with your people on a deeper relationship level
  • There more your manager knows where you want to develop your career, the more he/she can help you get there
  • Growth! Personal and business life is continually changing and growth is something we all value. These meetings are an opportunity for us to start/continue on a healthy journey of self-discovery and growth
  • Good “thermometer” check on your life at home or in the workplace — we care about you and this forum is an opportunity for us to talk about deeper issues before they become a bigger problem.

My leadership commitment to you:

  • These sessions are 100% for you. We can cancel, reschedule, or enjoy each other’s time in the office or at a coffee shop or even over lunch. It is up to you!
  • Everything we talk about is confidential and there are no TABOO topics.
  • I will do any pre-work for the meeting ahead of time, so that I can be better prepared to add value to your discussion

Your responsibility:

  • Book the meeting and be “FULLY” present when we have the meeting
  • You decide on frequency…. I recommend monthly, but we can do special 1:1 as required by you — when you are starting off, you might want to consider doing them more often.
  • Decide on the agenda ahead of time. See appropriate topics above
  • You send any material you want me to “digest” before the meeting – I recommend at least 2 days prior, but more if it is a “heavy topic”.
  • You can cancel the meeting if you feel you have nothing to talk about

I hope that there are some thoughts that resonate with you and that this blog has helped you think about how you can better connect with the people you most care about. So my questions to this group is:

  • If you are a people leader, what can you do to better connect with the people you lead?
  • What can you do to improve your connection with your manager, your spouse/partner, your kids, or your friends?

Thanks for listening and have a great day. If you have found this valuable, please share this blog with others!


Leadership Quote:

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. — John C. Maxwell


2 thoughts on “The Value of One:One discussions

  1. Well said Andrew.
    I myself have benefited from one to ones over the years, and in my previous leadership role hoped that I was able to pay it forward.

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