One on One Meeting FAIL! – Don’t be an IDIOT like me…

I forgot.

I’ve been doing this leadership thing for 15 years. I run a department of 300 people. And I FORGOT to have one to one meetings with everyone on my team. Idiot.

Let me tell you about it…

You see… in my day job, I’ve been in a new role for about four months… and I have a leadership team of 9 people and we meet once a week as a group, and I have regular catch-ups with them individually.

Except… two of my team are in a job share. They split up aspects of a role between them. And for our regular catch-ups, I would always meet them TOGETHER.

And we’d talk about all the stuff going on, the things we needed to get done… and it was fine.

But then something happened that made me need to talk to just one of them individually. Something specific to them that it was just better for us to talk about one to one.

And as I was organizing that meeting I suddenly realized… I hadn’t spoken to these two people one to one for three months. I’d ALWAYS met both of them together.

And I felt like such an idiot!

Because I know FULL WELL that DOING leadership is about balancing your actions across three things.

Getting the job done.

Building your team.


Supporting your individuals.

And if you never meet your people one to one… It’s REALLY hard to do that last one properly.

Having one to one meetings with your people, is the most important thing you can do to support them, to learn about them, to help them do their best work.

AND…. To help you shape discussions and arguments and proposals in ways that land well with them, that address their concerns and aspirations, that speak into the conversations they’re already having in their heads.

New managers and leaders often ask… How do I influence and motivate my team? And the FIRST step in the answer is… Get to know them better!

And the first step in doing that… Is talk to them one to one!

So… Don’t be an idiot like me! Make sure you ARE having regular one to ones with all of your team.

But look… I know. The big problem for SO MANY new managers is that they get the leadership responsibility, but their boss just expects them to know how to do it, or figure it out on their own.

So you might be thinking… But Ben… HOW do I have an effective one to one meeting? What questions should I ask? Well…

There’s a really simple set of four questions that provide a PERFECT structure for 95% of your one to one meetings. So if you don’t know where to start, or you want to level up your one on one game, grab the PDF by hitting the button below.


How to have EFFECTIVE 1:1 MEETINGS – Just ask these 4 questions…

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.


How leaders STOP FEELING OVERWHELMED – 4 key words every manager needs to know!

Everyone wants a piece of your time. And you’re completely overwhelmed, barely hanging on and not really getting anything done?

So many new leaders feel like this. There’s so much to do. So much to learn. Every day something happens to grab your attention, and your plans and ideas get pushed to the side just so you can keep up.

Today we’re going to talk about what to DO about that. How to manage your time in a way that STOPS you feeling under so much pressure AND keeps you making progress.

There are four key words you need to think about.

The first is URGENT. So much of what comes at you in a leadership role is URGENT.

It starts with the normal stuff. As the manager, you have to make sure everything’s getting done, done right and done on time. And JUST doing that will keep your diary, your inbox and your head completely full.

And then there’s the extra stuff that appears every day. Your boss needs something right now. One of your team is sick. A customer complaining. On and on.

There’s so much stuff that your inbox or your to do list are overflowing. All of it needs doing somehow. It’s all urgent.

The next word is IMPORTANT.

Some of the urgent stuff coming at you every day is IMPORTANT.

But some of it is LESS IMPORTANT for YOU to be doing.

If Paul from IT asks for a list of when your team’s laptops were last upgraded, it might be urgent, but it’s less important that you, as the team leader, run around and get the data that he needs.

And figuring out how IMPORTANT any particular task or question or problem is… is a critical skill for managers and leaders.

As is the next word which is DELEGATE.

In order to free up time, in order to reduce the overwhelm, you have to pass of some of the things being thrown at you to the people on your team.

And the things you should DELEGATE are the things that are URGENT but LESS IMPORTANT.

Paul from IT needs his list… But you can get one of your team to do it… instead of doing it yourself.

Try to get into the habit of asking yourself… Whenever anything comes up… “Who can I ask to do something about this? What should I ask them to do?”

If you do that consistently, you’ll be delegating more and more.

And that will give you time for the next word… SCHEDULE.

You’ve freed up time by delegating. You can use that time to SCHEDULE the IMPORTANT things that are NOT URGENT.

Because often, that sense of overwhelm, of too much stuff piling in, is accompanied by a sense that you’re not getting some really important things done. Your plans and ideas and changes. They’re being crowded out by the stuff that’s urgent.

And the only way you get to those things that are IMPORTANT BUT NOT URGENT done is to SCHEDULE when you’ll do them. Set aside time in your diary, to work on them.

Do you see how it all fits together?

Most new leaders spend too much of their time doing stuff that is URGENT but LESS IMPORTANT.

The biggest secret to leadership time management is to DELEGATE as much of that stuff as you can, so that you can SCHEDULE time to work on the things that are IMPORTANT but NOT URGENT.

And how do you figure out what’s in that category… Well… You could read the previous post on being an 80:20 Leader.

Or you can grab my Daily Checklist by hitting the button below, to plan every day in just five minutes, making sure you have time for that important but not urgent work.