Employee Engagement: How to hold a great 121 meeting
Great places to work have managers that know that understanding employee motivation needs more than just a survey or an annual meeting. We all know that building relationships takes time and there isn’t a silver bullet in the form of an app, a platform – and that catching up is key. Don’t wait until the next team meeting – ask your staff what’s on their mind! Here are some tips to make those catch ups effective.
- Book it in
Whilst you have those pre-planned meeting sessions for work talk, project planning and goal setting, employee one to ones feel like they can slip. Whether you’re guilty of letting a client meeting overrun or even rescheduling a day late, nothing says ‘I don’t care’ like a no show. Make the meeting a non-negotiable meeting, or a fluid catch up. If you really can’t commit, give a time window – perhaps 10-12 – 2 pm on a Monday, a time where you will see them, but you can’t say when. You might want to set clear hygiene rules – for example, you will always call them and give them 5 minutes notice to get a tea.
2. Tools down
It’s best to have technical tools down when you meet with an employee on an informal basis. That means no notes, no saving comments in a tablet, no eyes on your email or your laptop. Imagine if you were sharing the news of your weekend and a juicy bit of gossip with a friend and they seemed distracted, or worse – started taking notes down. You might zip up quite quickly! If it’s something really big – ask if you can follow-up. You might want to take a notepad or a tablet with you, but you should be using your eyes and ears and asking if you can make a note at the end of the meeting, if appropriate.
4. Ask the right questions
You know your employee knows how to talk to people, you see them do it every day, but when you meet them in a meeting room, or even on a sofa for a chat – you notice that they get tongue-tied. Fear of saying the wrong thing, crossing a line or coming across in a manner that could be a threat to your view of them can mean that they would rather say less and the result is that your ‘casual catch ups’ feel strained, despite the setting, location and objectives. That means you don’t get to the heart of the story and your bond never improves. It can be helpful to start the meeting with an anecdote from the morning, to try and lead them into a conversation.
‘Is there anything you want to discuss in particular?’
‘How can I help you out – what’s going on with you? ‘
‘What problems do you think might be ahead?’
‘What’s the most frustrating thing right now for you?’ Asking what motivates and what demotivates individuals and what matters to them doesn’t have to be done on a one-to-one basis. It can be done as a team exercise, perhaps pairing up team members and getting them to ask each other and then providing feedback.
‘What’s on your mind – at home and at work?’
5. Team up
Asking what motivates and what demotivates individuals and what matters to them doesn’t have to be done on a one-to-one basis. It can be done as a team exercise, perhaps pairing up team members and getting them to ask each other and then providing feedback. If you can only ‘talk work’ one to one, then a group exercise to talk motivation and goals may be more conducive. If you feel that your one to one catch ups doesn’t motivate, then get rid of them!