Consistency Is The Key To Effective One-On-Ones

When our kids were growing up, we took them out to breakfast every Friday morning before school.  We rarely missed these routine times together.  During each breakfast we would ask “How’s school going?” and almost every time the answer was “good, okay.”  The important point is almost every time.  One time the answer was a mumbled “fine” followed by a shoulder shrug.  Not the usual “good, okay;” after further questioning, we found out there was an issue in science class.  If it were not for the regular breakfast meetings and the consistent questioning, science class would have been a big problem.

Be consistent with your direct report’s one-on-ones.  Hold them at the same time each week, and ask the same check-in questions.  When your direct report has challenges, knowing they’ll have your attention regularly gives them a built-in forum for dealing with the problem.

Asking the same check-in questions during each session will yield the same responses most of the time.  That gives you a basis for measuring unusual answers that may indicate underlying issues.

One-on-ones are one of the most powerful leadership tools in your toolkit.  Exercising consistency will make them even more successful.

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