I hope that the importance of having regular 1-on-1s with your direct subordinates is clear without going further into it here. Yet even when I see organizations that do these regularly, a minority has an ongoing practice of doing it with “skips,” meaning that you have these meetings with people in all levels in the org chart below you, not just the managers you manage.
These are of course not going to be as frequent, and that’s alright. The important bit is to make sure that they do happen, and that you realize they have a different purpose than the 1-on-1s with your management team.
The purpose is multifold. First, it allows you as an executive to show all your employees that you care about them and create a culture that increases the odds of people speaking up and feeling secure doing so when necessary.
Second, it is a way for you to stay in touch with the actual happenings in the company. Hearing their reports of how things have been going, the vibe and their impressions of the past couple of months is your way to keep your finger on the pulse of the organization and by doing it across the organization you can see if there is an issue encompassing the whole organization or specific groups.
It allows you to hear from the people in the trenches what they think the company should be spending time on, where they think there are missed opportunities, etc. Too often things that are clear at this level don’t make it up the chain for different reasons.
And lastly, it is a great way to understand where the management of the organization is lacking. You may get feedback about specific managers, or learn which values or goals are not coming through across the team.
As a consultant I always like noting the differences between two different people describing the same situation. You cannot rely on a single source in order to understand and fully comprehend a team’s situation. Investing a moderate amount of your discretionary time into this is a great benefit to the whole organization.
Make sure to insert these into your calendar in a timely fashion.
If you, like too many other executives, are suffering from complete and utter lack of time on your calendar then that’s a whole different issue and you should definitely reach out to me.
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