By Keather Snyder, Chief Revenue Officer, The Omnia Group
It is no longer news that the pandemic turned businesses upside down. Close-knit branches are now spread across cities. Teamwork is a more complex challenge today as managers try to connect employees and the tasks at hand. Conducting productive one-on-one meetings is crucial in this remote world to be a successful manager. Discover these 10 tips to help your employees through the virtual world.
1. Aim for regular meetings
Casual encounters in the break room or corridors no longer happen because employees remain at a distance. One-on-one meetings should include both professional and personal needs in a cohesive package. Ideally, schedule regular meetings once a week or every other week, depending on the size of the staff. This schedule balances the need to talk to your employees and allows them to be productive differently. In contrast, daily meetings will only hinder work productivity and create micro-management situations that discourage many employees. If you need to spread them to once a month due to the larger workforce, regular team meetings will help close the communication and cohesion gap.
2. Update technical settings
Whether you need to manage two or fifty employees, every meeting should run as smoothly as possible. Addressing technology issues during the meeting detracts from the overall benefits. Make sure to update all settings in the video conferencing software in use. Send email reminders to your employees if an update is needed on their end. Talk to your IT department if complex issues arise. Today’s workforce relies on virtual platforms so these should be updated as much as possible.
3. Set an agenda in advance
Successful one-on-one meetings are a two-way street. Both parties have to give and take. As a general courtesy, let the employee know the details of the meeting in advance. A global overview by e-mail a few days before the meeting is sufficient. This gives the employee the opportunity to prepare for the meeting so that it is as productive as possible. Of course, small items can be added as needed, but most of the topics to be covered should be mentioned in the first email. This is especially valuable when working with introverted and highly structured employees. Often times, these valuable players can feel uncomfortable not having time to pre-assess the purpose of the meeting, while great thinkers are much more comfortable rolling through unfamiliar territory.
Individuals with a long column 4 and 8 on the Omnia assessment (analytical and detailed) will be much more engaged and articulate if you give them the time to plan their talking points. Those with a high column 3 and 7 (social and independent) are more likely to appreciate a surprise call. The power of behavioral insight is your ultimate benefit for involving people.
4. Be punctual, yet flexible
Set a timer about 15 minutes before the meeting’s scheduled time. Send a chat reminder to the agent about the meeting. This courtesy allows both of you to get to the bottom of it before the actual discussion begins. In most cases, the employee is ready to meet at the right time.
Be flexible if the scheduled time has to be postponed another five or ten minutes. For example, the employee wants to complete a project before leaving. Workers with a methodical pace have a strong need to finish one before starting the other. Or, you manage a team of customer service representatives who routinely talk to a customer, which would clearly be a priority. Being flexible creates a strong relationship with the employee while sticking to a rough meeting schedule.
5. Stay productive
Try to stick to the task at the start of the meeting. Work through the calendar. There should always be room for questions and slight tangents to the topic, but remain largely on the items listed. With this strategy you maintain productivity for yourself and the employee.
The employee benefits if he knows exactly what is being discussed during the meeting. He or she can also make suggestions for the next meeting. This back and forth process makes each meeting better than the last.
6. Connect on a personal level
Most teleworkers are usually at home. Everyone has different feelings about the isolation than colleagues. During these weekly meetings, it is important for managers to occasionally come into contact with employees on a personal level. Talk about a few things that aren’t work related, from sports teams to family life. The interview will tell you whether the employee is happy or frustrated with the external position. Discussing any issues can help anyone collaborate and thrive in a virtual world.
7. Stay accountable
Working remotely can be difficult for some people. Being an empathetic manager is crucial as all employees get used to their situation. However, accountability should be a part of your weekly discussions. If a mistake is clearly a person’s mistake, it should be discussed and corrected so that it does not occur again. Employees who hold themselves accountable will improve over time.
8. Discuss short and long term deadlines
Productive meetings involve a look at both short and long term deadlines. Discuss the deadlines that arrive in the coming week. Ask if the deadlines are reasonable. Make a compromise on a few dates and times so that the work can be completed with quality results.
Go through the deadlines that will come in the next month or so. The employee is given the opportunity to view the projects and start them if necessary. Putting power in the hands of the employee encourages strong virtual work habits.
9. Encourage feedback
These meetings should never be one-sided speeches from the manager’s perspective. Encourage feedback from the employee. Ask for opinions on a project, deadline or task. Because employees see the inner workings of their tasks every day, they can have an insight that managers lack. Take this feedback seriously and see if it can resolve any issues in the department. Small changes suggested by hard-working employees improve productivity at various levels.
10. End on a high note
Some meetings will inevitably have a serious undertone, such as missed deadlines or project errors. As a manager, steer the conversation to a positive note. Congratulate the employee for his areas of excellence. Also, keep the discussion light with small talk. By ending on a high note, the employee can include all discussion points and apply them where necessary. Taking up the challenge may well be the goal of the day after a qualitative one-on-one meeting.
Remote working can remain the norm for many organizations, even after COVID-19 has been controlled through vaccinations or other means. Use these external tips now and in the future. They will only strengthen your management skills in the long run. Whether meeting in person or via the computer screen, managing a great group of employees becomes easier with experience and knowledge of the internal motivators of those on your team.
Keather Snyder, Chief Revenue Officer at The Omnia Group, a leader in helping organizations improve and optimize their talent selection, development and corporate culture. Keather is a results-driven leader with a track record of guiding organizations to cultivate the employee experience, engage customers, and execute sales plans to exceed business goals. Prior to joining Omnia, Keather led their global sales and customer success team at Bersin by Deloitte. There she was a prominent speaker and workshop facilitator presenting on the “Future of Work” and Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends research. She continues to speak at conferences, universities and client events worldwide. Keather is also extremely passionate about developing our future generation of employees and devotes personal time mentoring school-age and early-career professionals. For more information, send an email to [email protected] or call 800.525.7117.