* This month's Feature Article: Becoming Comfortable with One-on-Ones
Feature Article: Becoming Comfortable with One-on-Ones
Last month's feature article was about building trust with one-on-one meetings. In response, a reader mailed me this question: “How long should it take to become comfortable with one-on-ones?”
Ok. Here's the standard answer: It depends. It depends on how regularly you have one-on-ones. It depends on how well you are prepared for your one-on-ones. It depends on how much each person on the team trusts you. And, it depends on how well you learn and practice.
Let's assume you have five people in your group. If you regularly hold one-on-ones every week with each person, you'll practice one-on-ones five times a week. One manager became comfortable within one week. A different manager wanted more time to practice, and he realized that at the end of one month, he felt as if he was a pro. He'd had four one-on-ones per week for four weeks, a total of 16 one-on-ones. Even though you only meet with each person once a week, you have the benefit of practicing one-on-ones with each person in your group every week.
Preparing for one-on-ones doesn't take long, but it does require attention to detail and the intent to prepare. First, I turn off all notifications (email, beeper, PDA, cell, phone). I retrieve last week's one-on-one notes and think about the feedback I want to make sure to provide. I make sure I have a place to take notes. Now I'm ready. One of my colleagues explains this is the hardest part for her: “I see the mail and want to answer it. It takes all my self-control to keep turning off notifications, and not answer.”
Building trust with each team member is not easy. I found that by reliably holding one-on-ones including correcting and reinforcing feedback (see next month's Pragmatic Manager), I was able to build trust quickly.
Learning and practicing one-on-ones is what takes time. Some people intuitively learn what to say and how to say it. The rest of us take longer. I made mistakes when I first started to use one-on-ones. Luckily, my team members trusted me, so they would ask me questions about my comments. I was able to recover and continue. (And if you'd like some practice, see the Managing One-on-One workshop below.)
Becoming comfortable with one-on-ones is similar to learning any other management skill. If you consistently practice, you'll find you're comfortable sooner, rather than later.
If you'd like to learn how to be effective with your relationship-building one-on-one skills, please join Esther Derby and me at our public workshop, Behind Closed Doors: Managing One-on-One, July 10-12, 2006 in Minneapolis. We have a few seats remaining. See <https://www.jrothman.com/syllabus/managingoneonone.html> for more information. Call or email me if you want details.
We've posted the schedule for 2006 AYE conference (Nov. 5-8, 2006) in Phoenix, AZ. See <http://www.ayeconference.com> for more details. If you're not on that mailing list, you can either sign up on the AYE site, or send me an email to add you.
I'm speaking around the country and across the ocean in the next few months. I'm (still) updating my calendar, <https://www.jrothman.com/calendar.html>.
© 2006 Johanna Rothman
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