Happy 2022! I hope this post finds you well, healthy, and off to a strong start for the year!
I had a deeply restful break, mostly staying close to home and avoiding (so far) the Omicron variant – at least as far as I know. How did you rest and restore yourself over the break?
My year is starting off in a very inspiring way. I’ve recently started working with a new client – a small executive team who haven’t been working that well together, to the detriment of their company. They are examining their working relationships and redefining how they work together and how they make decisions. What’s been most inspiring to me, though, is the terrific courage they each are showing in tackling some entrenched, and personally painful, issues. It’s easy to "manage" our feelings at work – hide them and pretend they don’t exist. But that seldom improves the working relationships. So this team really has my respect – they know what they need to do, and they’re diving in head-first!
I hope that your exec team does this from time to time as well. Every sailboat owner knows that if you want to win races, you have to get your boat in dry dock and scrape off the barnacles that accumulate on the underside. (And then re-varnish it.)
Think of your team’s "barnacles:" the accumulated assumptions, judgments, disappointments, and hurt feelings (yes, it happens) that slowly erode team trust. Are they retarding your effectiveness?
If you’re looking for a way to start fresh with your team this year, let me remind you that you already have the Swiss Army knife of leadership practices at your disposal: the 1:1 meeting!
Check your current reality – ask yourself:
1:1 meetings may be the most underutilized executive leadership tool around! Many clients admit that they (or their bosses) don’t always keep their one-on-one meetings. We know why – we have so many pressing priorities every day, and if we do have something urgent to address with a team member we probably call them (or Slack them). Or (worst of all) send an email outlining the issue, thus initiating a seemingly endless string of emails, with more and more people cc’d, until the whole discussion has become a frustrating exercise in miscommunication.
Simple – because 1:1 meetings are as versatile (and essential) as having a Swiss Army knife handy. You can use them for:
And more… How else could you use 1:1s?
Review your 1:1 meeting schedules, and make sure all your direct reports have regular, prioritized time with you. Get yourself on your boss’ calendar, if that applies to you.
And start the year off with a clarifying, expectation-setting conversation – about your 1:1s and how to make the best use of them!