Never shy away from a one-on-one meeting or convince yourself that they’re a waste of time. A good COO knows the purpose of one-on-one coaching meetings is to maintain focus on achieving a goal and to provide the necessary levels of direction, development, and support with people that report directly to you. When implemented, this process will make each of your direct reports more focused and empowered to take on their tasks.
“One-on-ones are more than just meetings, they’re one of your most important productivity tools. Use these meetings to help your employees grow, learn how to use their strengths, and live more fulfilled lives at work and beyond.” – 15five
If you want your one-on-one coaching meetings to run as well as they can, follow this six step method:
1. Get the Employee to Prepare
To ensure smooth one-on-one coaching meetings with your employees, it’s essential that they are prepared to give you the numbers before the one-on-one coaching meeting actually takes place. It’s not unusual for employees to spend fifteen to thirty minutes preparing for this weekly meeting by pulling all the information from the past week together.
Your employee should also come with their list of discussion items, concerns, frustration, questions, ideas, etc. Anything they want to be discussed should be prepared in advance.
2. Get Yourself Prepared
One-on-one coaching meetings are almost always the highest impact event of the week for the manager or anyone else who is in charge of them. Because of this, excellent preparation on the manager’s side is absolutely crucial.
The first step in the manager’s preparation is to analyze the metrics for the employee and their business areas. This is so you have questions that you can dig into with them.
Take a step back and ask yourself how the employee might be feeling these days.
- How is their commitment level?
- How are their skill and commitment levels related to each of the critical projects they’re working on or to projects that are upcoming?
- What “situational leadership” style might you use on various projects you’ll be discussing?
Those are all things you might want to think about in advance. Please note that a simple one-on-one preparation form with questions such as this can be beneficial for both parties involved.
3. Begin With an Opening Check-in
Right off the bat, you can and should measure the feelings of an employee. One-on-one meetings go far better when you take a moment to read the mood of the employee and direct the course of the meeting to support them.
“Remember, an investment in your employees is an investment in your company. After all, your employees are your greatest asset.” – COO Alliance
Missing this step can easily make your coaching meetings go sideways. Start by asking the simple question of, “How are you doing?” to start off the meeting. The next few words the employee speaks and, more importantly, how they say them, will give you immediate information if you listen well and care about that person.
If the response is favorable, such as “great” or “good,” then proceed with the coaching meeting. In some cases, though, you might get an unfavorable response such as, “not so good” or “brutal.” At that moment, you have to immediately find out what the dilemma is and figure out how to diffuse it.
Being able to gauge the mood of your employees is especially important to master if you’re reading people who work from home or remote offices where you can’t read their body language.
4. Review Actual Results vs. the Previous Goals Set
Following up on the goals of your employees is essential to a one-on-one coaching meeting! As a manager, you want your employees to learn how to hit the targets they promised. Learning to hit them builds much-needed commitment and discipline.
If your employees hit their goals, praise them in a big way. If they missed their goals, then dig in by asking as many probing questions as needed. It’s the best way to uncover the cause and to help them move the project along.
5. Problem Solve
When an employee misses their goals, you have to ask why. Asking the question is what drives the analysis of the call-in. It helps to generate options and results so that you can make recommendations to overcome the restraints and maximize the forward-driving forces you are all capable of. This is when a game plan is developed to ensure that the future proximal goals are achieved or exceeded.
As a manager, it’s part of your job to develop and refine your employee’s problem-solving skills. You’re not responsible for solving these problems, but you are responsible for leading and developing your team into people who can solve their own problems.
6. Set Goals for the Next Period
The last step of the one-on-one coaching process is simple – set new goals. You’ve spent the meeting assessing the previous ones and praising their success and problem-solving their troubles. Now it’s time to set goals so you have more to discuss in your next coaching meeting.
“Every COO, CEO, employee-basically everyone-should create a habit of setting SMART goals. It’s one of the best ways to push yourself forward and to actually accomplish tasks. Taking the time to think these goals out is definitely worth it.” – Cameron Herold
Help them to set goals based on the knowledge you gained today. Where did they thrive in their previous goals? What do they need to work on? How much can they handle? Help them set goals that will lead them to success!
Then, after all this, you repeat it at your next coaching meeting. These meetings are essential. Don’t brush them aside because they’re just one-on-one meetings. They benefit employee morale and productivity far more than you’d expect!
Do you have one-on-one meetings with your employees often? Do you see a difference in how they work because of it? Let us know in the comments below!
If you have questions or would like more information, I’d be happy to help. Please send us an email, and someone from my team will get in touch with you!
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been edited for accuracy and comprehensiveness.