1-on-1s are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager. An employee asks their manager, “How can I get some feedback on my recently completed projects?”
Another employee sends an email inquiring, “Are there currently opportunities for me to grow into leadership roles?”
Many managers will find themselves running short of time because of the individual interactions required by their teams. But despite the time investment, it isn’t something managers can eliminate from their workday—it’s a necessity of function. Still, you find yourself wondering what can be done to streamline individual interactions with team members.
The short answer is—scheduled time or 1-on-1s.
So, let’s dive into strategies that will help you improve team performance by leveraging 1-on-1s.
Scheduled 1-on-1s Eliminates Workday Interruptions
1-on-1s give leaders the opportunity to better leverage regular communication to drive higher employee performance. It also boosts productivity in teams as individual conversations are scheduled to not interfere with the regular work week. Because 1-on-1s are such a valuable managerial tool, let’s examine industry insights on how to conduct more effective 1-on-1s. These strategies should not only help you improve employee performance but also eliminate interruptions that could otherwise be dealt with during scheduled 1-on-1s.
Did you know? “Engaged employees report their manager returns their calls or messages within 24 hours.”
That means you don’t always have to get back to your employees the moment they ask you a question. Depending on your priorities and their needs, it can wait. Perhaps a few hours until you’ve completed a task, the next day or even until you next scheduled 1-on-1. For instance, an employee that wants to discuss development opportunities can wait until your next scheduled 1-on-1. On the other hand, an urgent customer request might have to be addressed within 24 hours. Both you and your team should make judgment calls on which issues are better left for discussion during your 1-on-1s.
Regular Performance Conversations Boost Employee Engagement
Engaged employees care more about their work and how their actions impact organizational success. That’s why managers should leverage 1-on-1s to have regular performance conversations. Employees are, in fact, the most engaged when they’re able to talk about their performance and get the feedback they need.
According to a Gallup study: “Behaviors related to communication & performance management are strongly linked to employee engagement.”
When conducting 1-on-1s, your team is practicing both regular communication and performance management. Providing performance feedback involves asking questions after a project or duration of time. From the perspective of the employee, feedback for performance prompts questions such as, “What were you trying to accomplish?” and “What is your perception of the results achieved?”
As a manager, you no longer have to feel obligated to provide on-the-spot feedback. But rather, you can take the time to process what’s truly valuable to share with your team members. At the same time, employees are not surprised by feedback, nor shying away from it. Every individual should expect an equal opportunity to receive and give feedback during schedule 1-on-1s.
Clear Feedback Drives Improved Performance
It may seem obvious to you that employees need to understand their responsibilities to perform well. Still, it takes more than a job description to properly communicate job expectations. The best managers don’t simply tell employees what their expectations are. In fact, being clear about expectations involves facilitating an ongoing conversation about evolving responsibilities and progress. For instance, reviewing responsibilities and checking in on progress during 1-on-1s.
Gallup was able to confirm this in their research, stating: “Clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance.”
Conversations about job, project and task expectations are crucial to improving performance and should never be saved for annual performance reviews. Luckily, you don’t have to save these conversations for performance reviews. Regularly scheduled 1-on-1s provide the opportunity to clarify expectations. Which means employees can improve their performance before it comes time for performance reviews. It’s a win-win scenario. It’s no surprise, that the highest performing and most engaged employees are more likely than their colleagues to say their managers help them set work priorities and performance goals. How are you currently ensuring clarity of expectations for your team?
When managers schedule regular 1-on-1s, productivity increases with reduced interruptions and clarified employee expectations. For employees, 1-on-1s are beneficial because talking about performance helps them engage in their work. It remains one of the most powerful tools managers must improve employee engagement and performance. How often are you having 1-on-1s? Do you discuss employee performance? Expectations?
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