I am often asked what practices helped me in my journey towards servant leadership during my career?  A few weeks ago I talked about the importance of “Walking the Floor” and it received great feedback.  I would like to share another practice with you this week that was equally as important:

1 on 1 Meetings

The number one reason people leave organizations is that they feel neglected and unappreciated by their immediate supervisor. Making the time to conduct regular 1 x 1 meetings with your people will insure true connection. I was just talking to a leader last week that said starting a practice of regular 1 x 1 meetings with his leaders has totally changed the effectiveness of his leadership, and of his team’s performance. He indicated it is a practice he will never relinquish.

Advantages and outcomes of “1 x 1 Meetings”:

  1. People feel respected and that their work is worthwhile
  2. Keeps people focused on the purpose, values, and vision of the organization
  3. Maintains clear understanding of expectations and priorities
  4. Allows time for people to weigh in on how I could improve my effectiveness as a leader
  5. It is a great model for your leaders to follow

I always found it beneficial to use a standard agenda.  I allowed the content within this agenda to be dictated by my people, not by me. By no means am I saying this is the only or best way to conduct these meetings, but this template worked for me.

  • Check in / Review prior Commitments – Listen more than talk – this illustrates and builds trust.  Ask Great Questions such as – What is the greatest challenge you are currently facing? / What have you found to be effective in working on this goal? / How would you describe your team’s engagement and morale?
  • Discuss Direction & Support Needed – Coach, direct, or train based on the person’s level of knowledge, engagement, and passion on the issue.
  • Commitments – Establish commitments and a game plan that will be acted upon before the next 1 x 1 Meeting.
  • Celebrate Wins – Provide specific recognition for the work that has been done.

I met 1 x 1 with my direct reports minimally on a bi-weekly basis. I kept the meetings with each individual on the same day and time, so it was not only part of my cadence but theirs as well.  And most importantly, you MUST keep your commitment of having these meetings. Your character as a leader depends on it!

Bonus: This is just as important in your personal life as well. I encourage you to set aside scheduled connection time for those special people (spouse / children / friends) in your life. Instead of bi-weekly, make this time DAILY.

Mark Deterding

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25