"one on one meeting"

Mon 30 May 2022
Previously, we’ve talked about Performance Reviews in great detail.  One of the key aspects of a good Performance Review Process is to have periodic one on ones with your direct reports. As a new manager, this is especially important since it will help you make an impression on not only your direct reports but also on your peers and upper management. An effective one-on-one is the best way for a manager to not only share feedback but also engage with their employees.

What is a 1:1?

A 1:1, or One on One, is a meeting between two individuals, most frequently between a manager and an employee. This can be about a range of topics but is generally about work-related topics such as goals or tasks. However, it is also a personal space where you as a manager can help develop your employee’s professional skills and help them with issues that may be plaguing them in their personal or professional lives. It is beyond what a work meeting will go into, by delving into personal matters and allowing for venting if necessary.  

When should a new manager host a 1:1?

Knowing when to host one-on-ones as a new manager could definitely seem intimidating. One of the most important tasks of being a new manager is getting to know your team members in respect to your new relationship. In addition to that, you should be having at least two or three of these meetings with your team members each month. Some companies like to have 1:1s every week! These meetings need to be regularly scheduled and held to allow for increased communication between yourself and your direct reports. Each of these meetings should be scheduled for between 30 minutes to an hour. Finding that perfect amount of time can be tricky. If it’s too long, neither if you will be efficient and will get bored quickly. Too short, and you may rush through a meeting and not sufficiently discuss all of your planned topics on the itinerary. I recommend starting with a 45-minute meeting and adjusting from there depending on how the two attendees felt the meeting went.

What should a New Manager say in a 1:1?

Generally, a good 1:1 will have a few different topics discussed. Some of these goals can include goal setting, previous tasks, current tasks, future tasks, as well as personal issues. Keep in mind that communication of any type is important. However, the first 1:1 should definitely be for you to set goals, introduce yourselves, and get to know each other. The tone of this meeting can set the tone of your entire working relationship for the future. This especially applies to new employees, since this is how you create a first impression and introduce them to company culture.

This first 1:1 should allow you to really create a personal connection with your employees. One of my mentors used to say that “They don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This applies to your management relationships as well. According to Forbes, Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.  Some of the questions that you could ask are, “What can I help you with?”, “What makes you feel valued at work?”, “How do you work best?”, or “What do you want to know about me?” Personal Connections can really help you understand what makes your employee unique, such as their talents, interests, or skills. However, it is important to still maintain professional boundaries. Keep your wits about you to not only protect yourself and your company but also to avoid making your direct reports uncomfortable. Remember, the goal is to make your employee feel welcome and brought into the company culture, not to scare them away. According to Forbes, disengaged employees can cost U.S companies up to 550 Billion dollars per year. Try to engage them, but don’t scare them off. This doesn’t mean don’t be vulnerable with your team. It just means that you shouldn’t gossip or share personal information that isn’t pertinent to your role as a leader or the role itself. 

With these tips on the ideal starting 1:1, you should be able to begin these meetings with your staff, even as a new manager. Start slow and be friendly. You were made a manager for a reason; you have the skills. You just need to apply them to these meetings and without a doubt, you will be able to start a very fruitful working relationship.

Fri 10 June 2022
LinkedIn News recently published an article about Walmart’s $200k store manager problem. The article shines a light on the fact that simply paying higher salaries doesn’t necessarily create great leaders. 

Leaders at Walmart realized that they needed a multi-pronged approach to developing reliable, effective managers, so they started investing in manager training and coaching to help develop their managers.

Walmart is learning the same lesson as many businesses: great leadership requires investment and effort. I’m going to cover how we got into this position and what we, leaders in organizations, need to do to minimize the learning curve of a new manager becoming an effective leader.

How did we get here?

The rapid increase in job transitions over the past few years (sometimes called The Great Resignation) has caused people to rethink their priorities for work. 

Some people qualified for leadership roles have learned that they just don’t like the responsibilities of being a leader.

Some new managers from outside the company fail to understand or adapt to the culture, and therefore struggle to get buy-in from the new teams they are inheriting.

Some new managers have never managed before. Their promotion to a management role is an opportunity for growth, but instead, they aren’t provided the guidance on how to effectively lead. 

These are just three examples of how manager development can go wrong. Without a strong system for training managers, replacement and resignation can rapidly spiral out of control and have long-term consequences on company culture and productivity. 

I recently wrote about how to maintain you’re a-game as a leader, where I described how many universities have downgraded degrees in management into co-majors or tag-along credits instead of being its own degree path. This happens because most recent graduates aren’t being hired to manage people so for universities to boost their placement rates and starting salary rates, it is more advantageous to train students in degrees that companies need from recent graduates right now. This shortsighted approach to management training is one of many contributing factors to the very issues facing companies today. 

The dearth of up-and-coming managers has led to greater turnover for both managers (e.g., they struggle with the transition) and the direct reports in their charge (they aren’t going to put up with a bad boss). This self-sustaining cycle of turnover can wash away company culture in months and take years to rebuild. 

What can we do about it?

1.       Equip managers with the tools and data to better understand their direct reports

There is no such thing as an effective one-size-fits-all management philosophy. That mode of thinking contributes to turnover.

Why?

Because people are driven by different motivations at different stages in their life.

One metric that we measure at Ambition In Motion (AIM) is Work Orientation. Our custom assessment measures what drives you at work and helps you understand how your work should fit into your life.

Some people are motivated by professional growth (Career Oriented), some people are motivated by work/life balance (Job Oriented), and some people are motivated by the value of their work for changing the world (Calling Oriented). Everyone has a mix of these motivations, but one type usually stands above the rest for an individual.

If you understand the Work Orientation of each of your direct reports *at that moment in time*, you can craft your leadership style for that person based on what drives them.

And that “at that moment in time” is important because Work Orientation is fluid. Unlike personality, which is generally consistent throughout life, Work Orientation is constantly in flux. Life events (starting a family?), professional events (getting a promotion?), epiphanies (deciding to start your own business?), influence from friends and colleagues (friend’s company has gone completely remote while yours hasn’t?), and more will mold your Work Orientation over time. Our job as managers is to be on top of these changes and adjust our leadership style and actions to manage your direct reports at that moment in time.

A good start for preparing to manage direct reports is reading about it. I’ve written about How to Manage Career Oriented Direct Reports, How to Manage Calling Oriented Direct Reports, and How to Manage Job Oriented Direct Reports in the hyperlinked articles.

The other big tool to equip managers with is a system for observing whether their perception of the workplace, productivity, and culture is shared by their direct reports. When leading a team, it’s difficult to get out of your head. This tool gives them the ability to observe and understand whether the team members agree (or disagree) with the manager’s assessment of individual productivity, team cohesion, and other metrics.    

This information is critical because perception gaps cause people to become disgruntled. People tend to judge themselves on their intentions and others on their perceptions. I was five minutes late because traffic was absurd today and nobody could predict it; you were late because you don’t care about being on time. Finding and understanding your perception gaps help you find real solutions.  

Managers need to understand where their people are coming from and empathize with their direct reports (and provide clarity) when there are gaps.

My team and I developed AIM Insights to identify the most important metrics for managers to understand their direct reports and cut through the noise. AIM Insights collects and measures everyone’s perception of their: task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, and manager performance.

If a direct report feels like they aren’t performing well, but a manager thinks they are performing great, this indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like in his role. Once the manager has this information, they can clarify expectations for that team member and help support long-term productivity and engagement.

And vice versa, if a direct report feels like they are performing great, but the manager disagrees, that indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like and that the manager must clarify expectations and help the team member improve their work.

2.                   Train managers how to act on that data and make their direct reports feel heard

The number 1 issue with any performance management tool in any HRIS platform is equipping managers with the training to interpret and act on the data to make tangible improvements. 

If a company surveys its employees but then doesn’t equip managers to do anything with that data, that company is wasting its employees’ time, creating frustration, and depleting engagement. 

Why? 

Because that data isn’t just for the executive team to review quarterly or annually. That data needs to be acted on!

If managers don’t identify productive actions from the data, there is no incentive for the direct reports to give an honest response, if they bother to respond at all. 

Therefore, it is critical that companies, if they ask for survey data from their employees, train their managers on how to interpret the data and have effective 1:1’s with their direct reports based on that data.

3.                   Actively coach managers throughout their tenure and support the need to adapt to the ever-changing nature of leadership

Leadership is an ever-evolving field. Economies are changing. Consumer demands are changing. Employee demands are changing.

Reviewing the employee salaries and benefits packages of companies even as recently as 5 years ago has drastically changed between now and then. What might have been thought of as outlandish and unnecessary is turning out to be required of job postings (my local Uhaul has a billboard that says “start today. Get paid today.” which was unheard of 5 years ago). 

Managers should be coached throughout their time as a leader with an organization, not just when they attend random offsite training. Leaders can’t just wait for the company to hire a speaker or host an event when they need to handle difficult circumstances. Life doesn’t consider the optimal timeline for you to get the training just in time. Sometimes stuff happens you need to be ready to handle it. 

Building rapport and offering consistent guidance helps managers handle the seemingly insignificant issues and builds the foundation for ensuring they won’t turn into massive issues.

Getting new managers to become effective leaders takes time. It isn’t easy and it isn’t obvious. Hopefully, these tips help your company excel and thrive in the future.
Wed 29 June 2022
Employee Turnover is one of the most irritating and damaging problems that a business may face. There are a few reasons that this can occur, but luckily, most of these reasons can be easily rectified or ameliorated. 

What exactly is Employee Turnover?

                Employee turnover is the phenomenon in which an individual leaves their position for another position, or to be free of the workforce. There are traditionally two types of this. The first type of turnover is voluntary turnover, which is when someone chooses to leave their position. Examples of this can be retirement, seeking a higher position, or taking time off to take care of a family.

                The second form of turnover is involuntary turnover, which is when someone is forcefully relieved of their duties. This is often initiated by an employer or human resources. This can include being let go, fired, demoted, or a few other actions. 

                According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most industries have a turnover rate of 19%.  A turnover rate is calculated by taking the number of employees that leave within a specific period of time by the average number of employees working in that time frame. The lower this rate is, the better it is for the employer. 

Why is turnover so bad?

                The hiring process is not an easy one for a manager, nor is it inexpensive. The process of hiring the best possible candidate includes a few tasks. Not only does this job have to be posted and then advertised, but then needs to be screened for and interviewed. All of these cost large sums of money, estimated to be on average about a third of the employee’s yearly salary, which equates to around $16,500 in many cases. In addition to that, it costs time and money to train new employees and then set them up with corporate devices, insurance, and any other plans they elect to sign up to.  Turnover also has the unfortunate aspect of reducing productivity due to fewer hands on deck. 

                Turnover is often easily avoidable as well.  According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention report, 75% of the reasons for employee turnover can be prevented, many of which can be blamed on poor management. Employees often choose to leave because of a lack of challenges, feeling underappreciated, or bored. However, they also leave due to poor communication, lack of advancement, mistreatment, or being overworked. 

                Fixing some of these problems can help increase your retention rate, and consequently decrease your turnover rate. However, understanding that the fault can fall mainly on management is key to helping improve retention. Executive coaching programs such as Ambition in Motion’s AIM insights can help your managers learn about commonly made mistakes, along with how to avoid them. AIM Insights also offers executive mastermind groups, which function similarly to Masterclasses. 

Increasing Retention Rate

                The following problems are three of the reasons that most frequently cause employees to leave, along with some suggested solutions.

1.       Unclear Job Descriptions that do not portray a position accurately
This can be rectified at the source of the problem. Have your current direct reports have a hand in designing these job position descriptions. They understand these positions the best since they work in them every day.
2.       Poor compensation
This is often difficult to fix since your company may not always be able to simply add more money to the payroll budget. However, it is important to understand how to give fair and adequate compensation. This should be given based on experience, skill, and how much you expect out of them. Do not expect someone for who you are paying the bare minimum to go above and beyond in every task you give them
3.       A Lack of career advancement opportunities
There is a certain type of employee known as a career-oriented worker. These individuals strive to gain advancement and continue working. Without any promotions or opportunities for advancement, they tend to lose interest and will look elsewhere for jobs. Do not be afraid to give more opportunities to your employees. Have faith in them.

 Better communication will also almost always help with issues related to trouble retaining employees. According to a report made by TinyPulse on employee retention in 2018, there is a 16% retention rate decrease for employees who aren’t receiving or giving feedback. 

A good 1:1 can not only give your employees feedback and a feeling of appreciation and recognition but also show you as a manager what you need to improve in order to retain your employees. Regular and honest communication will show your employees that their help is valued and that you care about their growth as a direct report as well as a person.

A good onboarding program can work wonders as well. In a survey by CareerBuilder, 9% of employees who have left their company blame it on a poor onboarding experience, and 37% of those employees say that their managers weren’t even present during the onboarding.  More details will follow about how to create an effective onboarding process, but at the very least, make it as thorough as possible for your newer direct reports, and be present and attentive at these meetings.

Through communication and improvement, you can keep your turnover rate as low as possible, and succeed in the workplace. 

Wed 12 October 2022
Business Innovation is defined as an organization’s process for introducing new ideas, workflows, methodologies, services, or products. The primary objective for business innovation is to maximize revenue, while also working for brand perception. 

            Companies such as McKinsey and Accenture deeply value innovation, with both citing over 80% of their executives believing their future success to be dependent on innovation. However, a growing concern among executive leaders is that not enough people are defining innovation as a strategic priority.  So the key question for managers is “How can managers propose and then continue to implement new ideas?” 

Proposing your Ideas 

            When proposing an idea, it is important to sketch out what problem this idea will address. This is a concept drawn from Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done Theory, which talks about creating a product to fill a need. While your idea may not necessarily be filling a consumer’s need, it could be benefitting the business in some capacity. 

            An idea doesn’t necessarily have to be new either. The Yellow Taxi concept in New York City has been around since 1907. However, many consumers raised concerns about the scarcity of the taxi, as well as prices. Consequently, in 2012, Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick, and Ryan Graves created UberX, which raised millions of dollars within the year, and has become a ubiquitous name in the transportation industry. 

            After finding a target problem to fix, managers can then think about how they want to fix this problem. The four most common aspects to consider when attempting to solve a problem in terms of business innovation include the delivery process, location, costs, and participant experience.

·       The delivery process includes how a product or service is delivered, which includes a timeline of when it is delivered. It also can refer to how convenient the process is for either the clients or the vendors.
·       The Location describes where a product or service is offered. 
·       Cost often makes a significant difference in company expenditures. Determining how to offer a product or service and differentiating it from other companies with a lower price can improve company efficiency.
·       Participant or Customer Experience is one process that may not necessarily drive up profits but is worth its weight in gold for a different reason. If direct reports are happier with a process due to its lack of stress or lack of difficulty, it puts the company in a much better light in terms of recruiting.  

Once managers have come up with the idea and planned it, they then have to consider the rigors of implementing this idea. However, the implementation of an idea within the business innovation process can often prove to be as challenging if not more so than the planning phase. 

Implementing the Idea 

            In 1991, consultant Geoffrey Moore published Crossing the Chasm, a book that gave many high-tech startups a marketing blueprint to give their product the initial traction needed to reach the majority of the market, and not dying in the “Chasm”, a term coined for the gap in time between the early adopters and the majority, 

            An idea in the workplace will work very similarly to the technology adoption life cycle. This cycle can get very confusing, but at its core, it is a bell curve distribution.

            Think about when the iPhone was first released. Did it instantly make it throughout the market? No, since everyone loved their Blackberries and Nokia Phones. It took a while for it to make its way into the population. An idea behaves in a very similar method as well. Some people within the workplace will instantly gravitate to the idea and acclimate to it quickly. However, there are other employees who may take longer to warm to the idea. These are often employees who have been in a position for longer periods of time or have more experience within the field. 

Encouraging the Adoption of an Idea

            Clear communication with direct reports after proposing an idea will give managers- and the idea- a lot more support.  There are a few key actions that managers should take during this process as well to help improve reception.

1)     Post throughout the workplace and online- disseminating information in clearly written correspondence will inform everyone about the change in policy. Explain what actions the business will be taking to implement the changes, and also set goals that have to do with this policy, such as trying to fully convert to the new policy within a certain timeline. As always, your goals should be SMART goals.
2)     Explain why these changes were made.  Being open with your employees about what prompted management to make these changes can help them empathize and potentially recognize how management is trying to help them. For example, explaining that a change in policy will make a task about twice as fast as before will definitely appeal to them. 
3)     Provide a way for employees to raise concerns about the implementation of an idea. It is completely okay for an idea to be changed following concerns from employees. It is also entirely possible that an idea may not necessarily be completely perfect for a workforce.
4)     Offer training sessions to help supplement postings of the new policy, especially if it’s a massive procedural change. Employees need to be fully informed in order to properly follow policy. 
5)     Review the changes periodically with employees in 1:1s and use quality rating systems to both evaluate and be evaluated on how well the change has worked for your employees. AIM Insights can assist a business in this by integrating with HRIS software and allowing employees to both be reviewed and to give feedback.

Change can be scary, but can make a big difference in how a company functions, as well as how well they do. Don’t be afraid to make this change.               

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