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Pulling the andon: How to have a 1 on 1 …… The 5 steps to success – whether you’re the boss or not

Pulling the andon: How to have a 1 on 1 …… The 5 steps to success – whether you’re the boss or not

How do I have a solid, productive 1×1 (one on one – typically a meeting between a leader and his/her employee)?

What does a good 1×1 looks like?

How do I have a good 1×1 with my boss even though it’s obvious they don’t know how to have a productive one?

In the last few weeks, I have been asked by different people – both managers and employees – enough times that I took a moment to step back. In the operations world, after recognizing an error in a system, an “andon”, or an alert to notify of a problem in the system, is pulled. It’s a way to go “all stop” when something that is important to the department’s function isn’t working. The system is stopped until the problem has been fixed.

It’s time to pull the andon. 1×1’s are vital to individual success à therefore … they are even more so to the department and organization.

Why have a 1×1?

  1. It’s communication, stupid – How do you know if you don’t ask and they don’t tell you?
  2. Get on the same page – It is guaranteed you aren’t – you’re not the same person; you have different perspectives. You must continuously ask/ tell to bridge those gaps.
  3. Never be surprised – What’s the status of the 3 goals that were assigned 3 months ago? Don’t be surprised – use the 1×1’s to talk about development and roadblocks.
  4. You have no idea how far you can go – In this case, the “you” is plural. You and he/she do not know how much can be done unless you talk through objectives, issues, problems. Your job is not static.
  5. Get to know them – Last, but certainly not least. Connections will get you everywhere. Find something that you and he/ she have in common. Learn about what they enjoy – family, hobbies, work.

Leaders: How do you effectively run a 1×1?

  1. Have a plan – This should be agreed on.. they should know what to expect. Create 3-5 bullet items that you will cover. Questions to ask: What do you struggle with? Can you elaborate further?
  2. Stick to it – Once you set the agenda, do as you say – don’t move around a lot – your employee expects that. You can be flexible once your topics have been discussed but don’t go down a rabbit hole unless you believe it will get back to one of the reasons you’re having the 1×1. This manages expectations – not to mention, your very limited time.
  3. Shut up and listen. Build Trust. – Unless you have a photographic memory, take notes. You’ll want something to revisit during the next 1×1. Did they work on what they said they would? Did you? Ask the question, “To make sure I understand, you are (working on/ struggling with) XYZ?”
  4. Don’t talk about work – The 1×1 is not a time to get a report out or an update from the employee. The 1×1 is ABOUT them. If they decide they want to bring up a specific project as it relates to your agreed upon plan, allow it to happen… be ok to be candid with them if they are going off topic – especially if you’re on a time limit (and you are!)
  5. Stick to the time limit – Respect their time – and yours. If it’s 30 mins – don’t go over. If you need more time, discuss WHY you need more time – is a 1×1 the best format for the additional need? Or would an email or a discussion with another individual on a specific topic more beneficial? Close with a solid “I look forward to seeing XYZ from you by tomorrow” or “I appreciate you telling me ABC, and will get back to you by Friday”

How do you lead the 1×1 – if you’re not the leader?

  1. Have a plan … but be flexible – your boss should have an agenda. If he/she doesn’t – be ok to listen to points beyond what you want to discuss. One of them could relate to a goal that you want to focus on later… you just have to be patient and wait a little.
  2. See it from the boss’ point of view – Do you know what other objectives or goals is in front of him/ her – what’s on their priority list? What’s important right now to his/ her boss?
  3. Talk…. And listen – What’s being said? What’s NOT being said? Look beyond what he/she is saying. How is it being said? What is the reaction to what you’re saying? Be able to recognize different in emotions & moods – you may not want to bring up a certain point if you can recognize your boss doesn’t have the mindset to listen because he/she is overwhelmed that day.
  4. Focus – This 1×1 has a timeline. Stick to the plan. Don’t feel you’re supposed to be proving yourself through the 1×1. It’s about your development, your career, your path to your goals. Stay on it.
  5. Follow up – Whatever is discussed – take notes. Keep up with them… send a f/u email to your manager – “this is what we talked about… this is what I will be working on… this is what you said you would do/ help with…” – and date. This is a record and tracker – to keep you both honest!

1×1’s are a powerful tool to bridge the gap between manager and employee. It’s an ongoing process, and both sides should continue working on it to get the best results.

Discussion: What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

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