If you’re leading a team, you need to be having regular one to one meetings with them. It’s simply the best way of understanding your people, learning what they’re thinking about and making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
But if you’re a new leader I’ll bet your boss hasn’t told you HOW to have a great one to one chat with a colleague. They just expect you to get on with it.
So today I’m going to give you a simple structure that works just about every time.
First… How are you?
Its almost too obvious, right? But one of your key responsibilities is to look after your people. And simply asking them HOW ARE YOU… EVERY TIME you sit down for a chat, is one of the most effective ways you can do that. But you have to really LISTEN to the answer.
Often they’ll just say… “I’m fine.” And they’ll mean it and you get on with it. But look out for those moments when you get a sense that something isn’t fine.
When that happens, be ready to stay on this question for a while. Genuine interest and empathy in how your people are, will skyrocket their trust in you and will help you be a better leader for THEM.
Next… How are things going?
It sounds simple again. But there are layers and layers here.
They might answer about something outside of work. The kids. The mortgage. A sick relative. In which case you haven’t really moved on from How Are You? And you probably need to stay there for a while and talk about them and their life.
But chances are, they’ll move on to work… And how they answer “how are THINGS going?”… will help you make sure they’re working on the right things. You should have a list of the stuff you want to talk about, the priorities they should be working on, but by letting them go first, you’re showing you’re interested in THEM and if they hit all the right buttons, you don’t have to steer things at all.
Alright… Next… What are you going to do next? Is the next question!
Sometimes in these conversations you colleague will be stuck with something. They’re carrying a big hairy monkey around that they don’t know what to do with. In those moments your job is to make sure they don’t leave the monkey on your desk! Partly because you’ve already got enough big complicated things to deal with. But mostly because you should be helping your team work out how to solve their problems for themselves. That’s how you help your people grow.
So… Help them focus on finding ONE next step that they can take themselves that will move things forward.
Question 4: Is there anything I can do to help?
Hopefully… If you got the last question right… The answer will be no. But sometimes, there IS something that YOU can do. Talk to YOUR boss. Ask someone else on the team to help. Things that you have the responsibility and authority to do. So you SHOULD ask if you can help.
And, with those four questions you have a beautiful one to one meeting. That’s perfect for most conversations with your people. Grab the PDF by hitting the button below so you have it to hand, but pretty quickly you’ll be asking those questions automatically every time someone calls you or comes into your office.