Best practices for coaching

Employees who get one-on-one time with their managers are more likely to be engaged as compared to those who don't. When managers are needed in more meetings than they can attend, they become obstacles to team goal attainment and create bottlenecks in decision making.

Why it matters

According to the research referenced in What great managers do daily:

  • "A Gallup study found that at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores is driven by who the boss is."
  • "The opportunity is huge for better-run organizations and a higher quality of life for workers."
  • "Bad management is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $398 billion annually."

According to How to make your one-on-ones with employees more productive the level of day-to-day collaboration between managers and their employees can indicate whether employees feel empowered to take initiative and work independently, or if they struggle to separate themselves from their manager.

  • A proportionately high number of hours spent in meetings with managers suggests micro-management.
  • Too little time spent with managers in meetings potentially suggests insufficient team guidance, particularly for new employees.

Best practices

  • Schedule recurring 1:1 meetings with your direct reports for 30 minutes at least twice a month and hold them accountable for achieving that goal. Consistent one-on-one manager time with employees leads to more positive employee engagement. See Catch up with your team for help with scheduling and managing your 1:1s.
  • Prepare and remain flexible on discussion points in 1:1s. 1:1s are best with structure but not too much to allow for co-creation. Agree on discussion points at the start and allocate adequate time to the most important topics.
  • Lead by example. People are more engaged if they work for a manager who is working at least as much as they are.
  • Evenly distribute work. Highly utilized employees often work longer hours than their peers, which can lead to disengagement.
  • Maintain large internal networks across the company. Employees with larger networks than their manager are more likely to view leadership unfavorably. (In order to qualify as a connection, an employee must interact with another person at least two times per month in an email or meeting with five or fewer participants.)
  • Empower employees with ownership of work streams so decisions can be made at the level where immediate action can be taken.
  • Enable and use Insights to manage your calendar and increase your awareness of conflicting meetings and meetings that keep you informed of decisions.
  • Promptly decline meetings as soon as possible with a brief explanation of why to reinforce decision-making roles and to role model healthy habits.

Change strategies

Develop a 1:1 conversation series

Use the following meeting agenda outline as a guide for creating a series of 1:1 meetings with employees, remembering to keep questions open-ended to spark discussions.

  • Meeting 1: Share some positive feedback with your employee.
  • Meeting 2: Explore how your employee interacts with the rest of the team.
  • Meeting 3: Understand what your employee likes and dislikes about the job.
  • Meeting 4: Define their assigned tasks and help them set priorities.
  • Meeting 5: Ask how your employee wants to grow in the future.
  • Meeting 6: Create space for your employee to share candid feedback and set short-term growth goals.

Brainstorm topics together

By collaborating on topics and sharing discussion points for your 1:1 meetings in advance, you can ensure they're always useful. Use a shared document to make sharing brainstorming topics easy.

Reduce coattended meetings

Meetings where you and your direct report are both attending can signify a lack of delegation. These meetings are a good starting point to deciding what decisions can be delegated to reduce coattendance. Use the following as a reference to get started:

  • Identify meetings that are attended by a manager and an employee that reports directly to that manager.
  • Request that when possible you delegate decision rights for that work stream to your direct report who is also attending.
  • Recap these delegated decisions during recurring 1:1s where further coaching can be practiced.

Workplace Analytics best practices