Three Keys to Connecting One on One

Though many leaders know they have one on one meetings regularly with each person on their team, this is a meeting which often gets pushed back, rescheduled, or even worse, cancelled.  

Working with leaders over the years both as a team leader, myself, and as a consultant, I’ve seen why so many leaders skip the One on One.  All too often leaders will ask me, “What do I talk about for the thirty to forty-five minutes with each person?”

Managers, Directors, and even Vice Presidents have a tendency to “overthink it.”  As with most things in life and especially in leadership, we have an opportunity to simplify the ever important, yet often skipped, One on One Meeting.

Anyone who’s experienced a leader of their own making sure this is never a meeting that gets skipped or canceled, will tell you it’s their favorite hour of the week.  

Here’s why:  it’s a human interaction and connection all humans crave.  We’re all wired to connect and relate to each other.  For anyone who takes pride in the work they do and especially for whom they do it, an hour of connection with your direct leader can be the difference between a good day or week and a bad one.

Here are three keys to connecting one on one with each person on your team:  

1.  Establish rapport and build trust, one conversation at a time.

2.  Share context of where the team is today, your vision for the future, and how they fit into picture.

3.  Allow time to give and receive feedback.

Establish rapport and build trust

Regardless of where you are in your relationship with each individual, the opportunity is to simply meet them where they are.  When you’re intentional about learning more about each person on your team – what inspires them personally and what motivates them professionally – they begin to trust you more and more along the way.

Share context: where you see the team today and especially your vision for the future

In the absence of one on one conversation and connection, it’s amazing what we have a tendency to conjure up in our minds. Unless or until they hear it straight from the source, in this case, you, as the leader in the situation, who knows what they might believe about where they stand today and where they fit into the future plans.  

Meeting one on one with each person gives you the opportunity to share with each individual two things – 1) Your take on what’s actually happening today, and 2) How you envision each person fitting into the future you’re creating together.  

When each person knows they matter to you, as the leader, they open up a little more to the idea of receiving your guidance, coaching, and direction.  Especially when they hear you talk about them having an integral role in creating a successful future for the team, overall, they’ll walk out of your office and back into the operation with renewed purpose and passion after every single one on one meeting.

Give and receive feedback

In the absence of feedback, we seldom grow, mature, and become our best.  Giving feedback is, of course, essential for any leader’s ability to successfully build and grow a team.  However, receiving feedback is just as important.  The underlying value in giving and receiving feedback is that it’s simple, two-way communication which allows both parties to share and receive.  The result is wisdom shared and wisdom gained, for how both can become better tomorrow than they were today.

Notice the order in which these were presented.  It was purposeful, as it symbolizes the same order in which great leaders facilitate effective one on one meetings with each person on their team.

  1. Establishing rapport and building trust lays the foundation.  
  2. Then and only then will people open up to the leader’s ideas, let alone their vision for the future.  
  3. And unless they trust you or feel they’re a part of what you’re building, they won’t share feedback, nor will they listen to yours.

Don’t skip your One on One’s.  They can be the most important and uplifting part of your week, for you and each person on your team.

Lead with hospitality…

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