One-on-one meetings can literally save your business.
My wife, Erin, is a successful physiotherapist. Before she ran her own practice, she, of course, worked for someone else—and she worked extremely hard. She had the highest billing, highest client retention rate and was always fully booked. In short terms, she was a model employee—valuable to the firm, a great brand ambassador and a loyal employee. Erin is the type of team member I coach my clients to find.
Well, after 7 or 8 years, she made the difficult decision to leave and venture out on her own—and one of the main reasons she did that is because she didn’t feel appreciated where she was. You can imagine how the owner of the clinic felt, knowing one of their most successful and dedicated employees was about to jump ship and leave a massive hole in both the business and the client base. It a scenario that happens every day in small businesses across the world, and for many business owners, they are mystified as to why it can be happening.
Sometimes, it’s for a better offer, more security or better hours, but more likely, it’s the feeling that no one appreciates the effort top performers are making when they come to work year after year and give their all. We’ve all heard the adage; “people don’t leave businesses, they leave managers. Business owners need to make people feel like they’re valued and doing work that matters. If not, the best people will go, again and again. This throws owners into a hire, train, separate, repeat cycle, which damages everything from the bottom line to product quality and brand reputation.
So what’s the solution? For me, it’s mastering the art of communication through the one-on-one meeting.
One-on-one meetings are among the easiest, cheapest and the best ways to boost a feeling of accomplishment in your employees and reinforce their value to the team. And all you need to do is sit down and ask them how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and how you can help them out.
Doing this regularly builds trust and makes it much easier to have difficult conversations when things start to slip off the rails, or your team member just isn’t feeling the fire for whatever reason.
These conversations could be every week, every quarter, heck, even every day, but the secret is consistency and approachableness. This isn’t a review, and shouldn’t be confused with one. Think of your team members as the cars of a train, and your one-on-one conversations are laying the track. It keeps everyone moving in the same direction, at the right speed and prevents those cars from jumping the rails in a way that prevents you from ever getting them back on board again.
What questions to ask
“What would you like to achieve this year?”
“What are some of the goals you have in your role?”
“How would you like to grow?”
“Is there any professional development you’re interested in?”
“Do you want to progress through the company?”
“Are there any roles you have your eye on?”
“What are some things we can change to make your job more meaningful/fun/easier?”
“How are you getting on with your peers?”
“Do you feel like you have good support here?”
“How can I help you achieve your goals?”
“What more do you need from me?”
These are not lofty conversations. One-on-one meetings are meant to be a free and easy conversation that checks in with your previous discussions and acts as a touchpoint to help your people stay on track, focused and motivated. It also helps open the door to have courageous conversations when your team members aren’t feeling the love.
How to keep it simple
If there is one thing you work on as a business owner in 2020, it should be strengthening your communication skills around one-on-one-meetings. I know there are a lot of things to think about as a business owner. Operations, sales, finance, product, etc. but it’s essential to understand that great people management and an engaged workforce have a genuine impact on your bottom line that is too critical to ignore.
Sometimes when you think your team is running well, it can be most comfortable to leave well-enough alone, but sometimes, it’s because no one wants to speak because there either isn’t the opportunity, they don’t know how, or they feel like it won’t make a difference anyway. I will guarantee you if you begin to place more effort into this one aspect of communication, it will make a positive difference to your business.
When you put more into your people, they put more into your business, and that’s a fact that will show up on your balance sheet.
If you need more resources or one-on-one coaching, reach out. We’re happy to help complete a skills analysis to figure out where you can use a boost and develop a training program that’s unique to where you would like your business to be. Already do regular one-to-one meetings? Let us know in the comments which questions work and how often you check in with your team!