* This month's Feature Article: Using One-on-Ones to Build Trust
Feature Article: Using One-on-Ones to Build Trust
A colleague of mine just arrived at a new company as a manager. He's inherited a group where management was (and still is) a dirty word. Due to some of the previous managers' actions, the technical staff think all managers are crazy and not to be trusted–including the new manager. My colleague is in a quandry. What's a manager to do?
It's time to for my colleague to build his relationship with each member of the team. (And for his peers to rebuild their relationships with their team members.) And the best way to do this is to rebuild the trust between the manager and the team member.
I've been a fan of one-on-one meetings for a long time, especially when managers and project managers use them to avoid serial status meetings with a group. If you haven't read “No More Meeting Mutinies”, take a look here.
But one-on-ones are critical when the manager needs to build trust.
Those of you who've met me before may be sitting there puzzled. “Has Johanna gone off the deep end? She's talking touchy-feely stuff. I don't need that!” I haven't gone off the deep end–yet. And I am talking about touchy-feely stuff–interpersonal and relational skills–skills that are critical for successful managers.
Look, I'll be the last person to tell you that we should sing around a campfire or hug at work. But the trust between a manager and a team member is critical to the success of both people. A lack of trust between a manager and a team member destroys the working relationship, which prevents everyone from performing great work.
Here's how I build my relationship with a team member:
1. Be consistent with the time and agenda for the one-on-ones. If I don't cancel one-on-ones and the team member knows what to expect from me, I've started building a reputation for consistency with the team member.
2. Take action items and report back to the team member about my progress, even between one-on-ones. Some action items take me a day to complete. In that case, reporting back to the team member before the next one-on-one helps the team member realize he or she can depend on me. If the action item takes longer, I'll report on my status to the team member at the next one-on-one. And, I'll report if I'm stuck.
3. I find something to appreciate about each person each week. Appreciations are not “thank you” or meaningless praise; they are an explanation about how the other person's work benefited me or the organization.
4. I listen to what the other person is saying–including the tone of voice and what they're not saying. Sometimes the music behind the words is more revealing than the words.
5. Discuss some form of career development with each person each week. That can range from “What kinds of things do you want to do next on the project?” to “What did you want to learn professionally this year?”
6. Give feedback, reinforcing or correcting, each week. People want to know how they're doing. Tell them.
7. Ask for feedback and listen to what the person is saying. You may choose not to change what you're doing, but you need to hear what your team members think about you. If they don't trust you, you won't hear much. But over time, you will.
It's not easy to repair a relationship, especially when you're not the one who broke it. But it's absolutely necessary. And, if you want to practice your interpersonal and relational skills, come to our workshop (see below).
Esther Derby and I are running our first public workshop, Behind Closed Doors: Managing One-on-One, July 10-12, 2006 in Minneapolis. We'd love to have you join us. See <https://www.jrothman.com/weblog/2006/04/announcement-managing-one-on-one.html> for the announcement on my blog. 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 in the midst of updating my calendar, <https://www.jrothman.com/calendar.html>.
© 2006 Johanna Rothman
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Tags: leadership, management, one-on-one