Almost everyone in a business would agree that the last thing they need is one more meeting to attend. However, some meetings can be used to build and foster employee engagement when done consistently and properly.
No one wants to spend any more time in a meeting than is needed. In fact, most employees (and managers) will agree that the bulk of meetings in a typical organization are time wasters. So it might seem counter-intuitive to suggest adding another meeting to your agenda.
However, if you are a manager or supervisor, a priority should be the creation and fostering of a great culture within your company, and engaged employees. And this can be accomplished in large part by implementing one-on-one employee meetings.
"The Meetings Will Continue Until Morale Improves"
A similar sentiment, sometimes attributed to Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty, illustrates the basic approach of most businesses. The default answer for dealing with many issues or problems is to have a meeting. And, because so many meetings are inefficient and often time consuming, they simply add to the aggregate problem of too many meetings.
A one-on-one employee meeting, or employee development meeting, is designed to be both time-efficient and productive. The only attendees are the manager or supervisor, and a direct report. The immediate objective of these meetings is to convey any important information, input or feedback, while establishing a personal and immediate connection between both the supervisor and employee.
The long term, or over-arching objective, of these types of meetings is to help people develop the ability to make better choices and decisions. They are designed to nurture the growth and development of employees, while providing a regular forum for addressing questions and issues that might arise throughout the week.
By providing a venue for regular communication and a focus on development, improvement and employee growth, these meetings can be tools to both improve morale and boost employee engagement.
Rules of Engagement
To be truly effective, this approach must be explained to employees and their "buy-in" must be elicited. The format and expectations of these meetings must be communicated, as well as a clarification that these are not "performance review" meetings, nor are they simply a time to vent and air their grievances.
While a degree of all these elements may be a part of some meetings, it's critical to convey from the start the purpose of these meetings, which is to nurture the employees’ professional growth by working together with the manager to overcome obstacles in the employee’s way. The manager's job is to provide a space for the employee to innovate, take risks, and learn.
Here is an overview of a typical flow for the ongoing one-on-one meetings adopted from a similar process developed by a well-known coaching organization:
Provide the meeting's agenda.
Ideally, this should be communicated prior to the actual meeting, preferably by email. This allows the employee to add any agenda items he or she feels is necessary for that meeting.
Review the employee’s current work.
This can often be as simple as discussing current work activities, or questions and concerns about priorities, deadlines, or expectations. This is where the manager can provide direct and immediate support and help.
Identify and discuss development issues.
Oftentimes, this will make up the bulk of your meetings. It is here that managers can function as both mentors and coaches with the goal of guiding the employee towards new levels of growth.
Discuss other issues or updates.
The beauty of these meetings is that there is often nothing additional to discuss. Otherwise, this is the time to address any policy or procedure updates, or other items directly related to the employee.
Document items to revisit at the next meeting.
This simply means documenting any items that need to be continued and any new items to address at your next meeting together.
Confirm or schedule your next one-on-one meeting.
If your meetings are already scheduled, take a moment to confirm both parties will be there, or schedule your next meeting, if need be.
Timing and frequency of these one-on-one meetings must be determined by a few factors such as the availability of both the employees and the manager. In addition, the degree of daily interaction between the employees and their manager can partially determine the need for more or less frequent meetings.
A good rule of thumb is to schedule a meeting once per week for each employee. In many situations, however, once every other week is sufficient. Only once a month is probably too infrequent and may be less than effective.
The length of the meetings is crucial, as well. Another good rule of thumb is to plan for 30 minutes each time. If less time is actually needed in a given meeting, then simply end the session when you're done. No need to use the full half hour.
The tenor of the meetings should be one that is upbeat, positive and challenging. And the employees should know explicitly that it is also a forum that allows them to be transparent without fear of incrimination.
Let Us Be Your HR Management Partners
Employee development, culture building and workforce management can all fall under the auspices of a company's HR staff. And oftentimes the tasks and demands can seem overwhelming. This is where having an alternative for your HR management can be highly beneficial.
Another key step in maintaining HR workload, while increasing your company's cost-effectiveness, is to consider outsourcing. A professional agency such as Accuchex can provide much-needed help with Human Resources needs and questions.
Accuchex is a full spectrum Payroll Management Services provider offering expertise in Time Management, Insurance and Retirement issues, as well. Sign up for our free Workforce Management Guide.