15. 1-1 Calls with Your Team Members

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/15. 1-1 Calls with Your Team Members

15. 1-1 Calls with Your Team Members


How often do you meet with your team members in a 1-1 environment? If this isn’t yet part of your communication structure with the team, I would really, really recommend that you reconsider and work to implement this as soon as possible.

1-1 calls allow for a more personal touch. For you to get feedback in addition to receive feedback from your team.

To build rapport and allow for more transparency

Demonstrate empathy

Problem solve things that the team is encountering in their work.

While it’s a long day, 1-1 calls are some of the most important things that I do as a leader on my team. Here’s some things that have made them successful for me:

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Hello, welcome to another episode of smooth operator. I'm Adam Liette, your host, so glad you could join us for another day. And I'm going to dive into something a little bit different this episode. And it's the idea of having a one to one call with your team members with your direct reports. So so often, especially in remote teams, we get used to either communicating through slack or through our project management tool or whatever other mechanism we're using. And we miss the power of what can really be accomplished when we get face to face with someone without everyone else on the team there. So I have to ask, like how often do you meet with your team members in a one to one environment. If this isn't yet part of your communication structure, and part of what you're doing, as a leader, I would really, really recommend that you reconsider and work to implement this as soon as possible.

For me, one to one calls have been really, they've been a game changer, they've allowed me to really connect with my team members in a different way. They allow for a more a more personal touch, for a place where I can get feedback and give feedback in a way where my team members don't feel intimidated, they feel as though it's a safe place, a place where it is structured. Like everything else we do, we do have structure behind the one to one calls. But it's done deliberately, it's done on a calendar basis. The team members know when their one to one call is coming. And and they have a worksheet that they prepare in advance of that. So they can organize their thoughts so that they can be best prepared for that interaction they're going to have with me, so that they can get what they need to get out of it. And likewise, I prepare something from my side. So I'm able to get what I need to get out of it. One to One calls are very, very important for that. In addition, it really is a great place for you to build rapport, a place for you to connect with your team members on a much deeper level, get to know more about their family, their personal lives, all those things outside of work, but make a really big difference in the in the long term. With retention with getting the best out of your employees with making sure that you're showing up in the best way possible. It also allows for much more transparency a place for you to explain. If they don't like something that's going on in the company or or something that's going on with the process, you're then you then have an opportunity right there in front of you to explain why we do something the way that we do. And if they make a valid point about a way that can be improved. Man, not only is that great for the longevity of the company, but they get to then have ownership like hey, that new change we made that really everyone loves and improving things I did that how it how simple but important is that to give your team members ownership over something and then to have the the knowledge that they propose something to you, you're receptive to it, you made the changes, and then boom, it's in motion. Man, if there's one thing you can do to get immediate buy in from your team members is to take a suggestion, implement it, and show them that you're not only listening to them, but you thought it was a good idea, they're able to see the results.

And holy cow, like it's such a little stupid thing. But it makes such a tremendous difference over the longevity of a of a team member, however long they're on your team, I challenge you to look at this kind of structure and think that it will not extend the longevity of a team member on your team because they have that outlet, that release to be able to improve what they're doing and prove what you're doing to help support them. Um, in addition, more often problems, all things that the team is encountering in the work of the team members encountering and their work, we're able to find solutions together. And just like before, they have some ownership of it because they helped create it. So what I have come to do when I have one to one calls, it's once a month, and I meet with every member of my team. And I did I used to spread it out I do like two or three a day. And what happened was, I was never I never had a focus day, I was never able to take a whole day and just wipe my slate clean of tactical stuff and really work on the big projects and aim to get moving. Like that whole week was wasted and not waste. It's the wrong word to use. But the whole week my mind was in like both stages between like my operational level where I'm trying to get stuff done and my operator level where I'm trying to work with my team and get them into into where they need to go. So what I've moved to now is I do this in one day, and it's a long day. I'll give you that like, I need a serious drink by the end of this day, because it's, you know, nine or eight or nine hours on Zoom straight, little no breaks in between. But even though it is a long day, I continue to do this because I get a lot out of it and One to One calls are some of the most important things that I do as a leader on my team.

And I just wanted to share some of the things that have made them successful for me and really encourage you to, to go ahead and implement these. The first is that the one on one calls are scheduled, and they are very predictable. I scheduled them a month out, it's on the calendar. And it's always the same week of the month, we go for the last week of the month, because that tends to work the best with my schedule around our planning cadence. So aim for the same general time period of the month, make sure that's communicated, have it be separated from times when you can predict that you'll be busy, we all can somewhat predict when we're going to be busy. By doing at the end of the month, I started doing it the beginning of the month when I first started doing it because I thought that would be the best but I was just end up being so distracted by implementing our monthly plan ended the month was really the best way for me to close out that month to put that month to bed. And there's a nice sense of closure that comes from that. By having it scheduled having a predictable, prevents whiplash and prevents you from moving away from the strategic plan for the month, you can plan around your one to one calls because they're on the calendar, they're on the calendar for the entire year, you have foresight of those. It also gives you the time to think through any changes that can or should happen. And really just start preparing for them in advance of those one to one calls, or in advance and after those one to one calls, right. The team also knows when they're coming, they can hold off on things that need your attention. They know if it's the third week, I got a one to one call with with my operator with my direct with my supervisor next week, I can wait till next week to bring this to their attention because that's when I know I'll have their full attention. So I also like to have them sequence and make sure they're scheduled. So a week out, I started booking times I send all my team members will link to my calendar, and they're able to then make you know booked their appointment.

As I mentioned, I used to do this where I just booked the whole week scientific appointments on it whenever they were available. Now I dictate a little more where it's one day, this is my one to one call day find a slot, I'm opening up my entire schedule to you. And think about what that says to your teammates. And my whole day is for you guys. Like that says a lot because your team members know, they might not know everything you're doing. They know you're busy as hell. Okay, they do know that. So just the simple act of taking a whole day to devote to your team members, there's a whole lot to be said about that and what they're taking from that. By having them sequence it also gives the team time to start thinking through what they'd like to talk about gives them a chance to repair for any questions that they might have. And for any questions that I may have of them, I'm able to communicate in advance with my CEO to say, hey, we're having one to one calls, what are some things you'd like me to dig into? And I do give him time, advanced time, I don't surprise him with it. Like, hey, I'm gonna ask this question next week, keep in the back your mind anything you want me to bring up, you know, let me know. So if I do have specific topics that I do want to talk about, and I want to address on the call, especially topics that are more sensitive or dealing with their job performance, I let them know in advance, I let them know on our private direct message Slack channel. Hey, just so you know, on the one going to call I would like to talk about this or that. The key is I don't want them to have any surprises on the call, just like I don't want to have any surprises. I want them to come into it, knowing what I want to talk about and the agenda that I have for them. So that they're able to mentally prepare for that they're able to be prepared to receive that maybe the guidance I'm going to be giving them you'd be very surprised how much more receptive people will be. When you do give them that advance notice that you'd like to talk about something that might be a little hard to talk about. It feels awkward to do it. And if they start to make a fluff in the Slack channel, just like we'll talk about on our call. I just wanted to give you that foresight that I'd like to talk about this subject.

Okay, so in addition, I do have a written report from all my team members, they get the template and they fill it out. And they get it to me, not less than 24 hours before our one to one call. And so this document, like I said, done ahead of the call and it's a place for them to put on paper that things they'd like to talk about.

There's two real big advantage to this. The advantages to this. First off, it's written so you're able to capture their thoughts in a different forum. A lot of times people will communicate differently depending on the medium in which they're communicating. People when they write stuff, they might tend to be either more reserved or more verbose, or more expressive, or whatever, then they are in a face to face environment, all kinds depends on their comfort level. But the point is by having both of these avenues out there, you're covering for, for like 99% of the human population that either chooses to communicate in one of these two modalities, right? You're, you're opening up the door to them. It also really allows me to capture then see those red flags ahead of the live call had a really tough live one to one call about two months ago, where a team member was just not really jiving with something that was going on. And they're they're written report to me to be honest, I it, it caused me to really doubt myself, and doubt some things that we're doing, like, what am I doing wrong here, but when I got to digest it, and I ended up bringing in a trusted ally of mine to take a look at this with me, just so to make sure I wasn't looking at something the wrong way. And the person that helped me with this, like, they really helped me see a different light of it. And when I showed up on that call, I was prepared, I knew what I want to talk about it or how I wanted to approach it. And but it was all because I knew in advance of what this team member wanted to talk about. And that's just, that's so small, but powerful to be able to do something simple like that.

Do make sure that you get that 24 hours out, though, don't let it be a surprise to yourself, either. If you're getting it five minutes before the call, you have no time to recover, you have no time to actually you you'll let everything digest. And let yourself to be in the moment when you actually show up on the call, because you're still trying to decipher what you just read. I also always use open an opening questions in the doc open ended questions are great, you know, because they tend to lead people to feeling open and being able to be open with you. So 24 hours out, make sure they're open ended and do have at least some kind of structure to it. So it's predictable. And they know kind of what to expect when they open up that that document. So internal preparation, like this is huge. So often we're jumping from Zoom meeting to zoom meeting, I'd like to keep at least 15 to 30 minutes between the meetings. So this does two factors. For me. First off, I jump off one meeting, I'm able to take a very deliberate approach to offloading everything that I just had in my previous meeting, take my notes, put them in a consolidated document. You know, to take everything you know, I'm not trying to do this by by memory, seven hours later, after 10 More zoom calls, right, I'm able to do it right then in there. So able to put them in, let that previous meeting kind of go by the wayside. I'll get back to it later when I look at things in the holistic framework. And then it gives me a chance to refocus, it gives me a chance to take 510 minutes in silence to do so a quick meditation, to check on some things in the business, the other running to get myself centered again. So once that Zoom screen opens back up with my next one to one call on my best self, I'm not distracted, I'm able to give my best to the team member because I'm telling you back to back to back, if you're trying to do it that way.

These These will crush you because these one on one calls can be emotionally draining. So be prepared for that. So five, final thing is running the meeting. Just remember these calls are not about you. They're not about you. They're not they're about your team member. So one thing I've had tremendous breakthroughs with is just by being present with my team member and from a position of service during our one to one meetings, asking probing questions, helping them solve problems helping having them help me to solve the problem with them. I noticed allowing my team to help create the process together with me. I mean, that's removed a lot of blockers, it's helped me to even see things a little bit different when they suggest something I didn't think about before. How incredibly wonderful is that? To be able to have your team member own something new in the company. So be of service, yes, you have an agenda. You need to get your agenda across. But let them lead with it. Let them lead with it with what they have unless you have something that's confrontational like that. That call I mentioned, I had two months ago. I mentioned that a couple minutes ago where I knew I had to take charge of the meeting right away because like things were going off the rails. But if you're in a growing team with a growing company where SOPs and processes are changing on a regular basis, your team members need this time. They need to be able to express themselves to be able to to provide direct feedback to you.

Invite the team member In the process and give them ownership, and you will have a team that is, you know, really kicking on all cylinders. So, look, if you slip up, dude, forgive yourself, like you will slip up when doing these things, you're gonna miss a schedule, you're gonna not show up the way that you want to, you're not always going to be your best self, forgive yourself and forgive your team members. If they show up in a similar way, you won't always be in the mood to give your best part of the way we structure it this way is so we can adequately prepare to be in that mode. To do those one to one calls, when you know something's coming a week out, man, you're able to design your life around giving your best on that day. And so by scheduling it well in advance, you're able to partially do that to yourself, pre call with rituals will really help you get through this. I've talked about this a bit on the show, my pre call crawl rituals, I used to have a full checklist I ran down, I don't need the checklist anymore, it's ingrained inside me. But pre called call rituals really helped me show up being my best self and being in that position of service than I need to be in. And that is critical. If you don't have a pre call rich ritual for anytime you're getting on a zoom call, I would invite you to get one like, like having a step by step process, even if it's 45 seconds long. If you do the same thing every 45 seconds before you jump on a zoom call, and you find it gives you success, dude, run with that, because those are money. And you're going to use those pre call rituals over and over again, overall, remember, the one on one calls are not about you. They're for your team members. So you have something you want to accomplish. But more than anything, you're trying to make sure you're pulling your team members with you. They're following you, they're following your lead. But you're also giving them the support that they need on that call to help them solve their problems, solve the things that are coming up, because those are inevitable. Remember, all every company is going to have problems period. My mentor says, your business is broken. And if everything goes right, it always will be. Remember that mantra, everything will always be broken, show up in service and you will be successful. All right, well, I hope that really helped. And if one on one calls aren't something that you've implemented yet, I would highly recommend them. The hardest part is just get started. And once you do start doing those, you're going to find you look forward to them. You're you need them, you need that feedback from your team. And you end up really just thriving off that environment and your team will do the same with you.

So go ahead and implement these. Get them rolling and man let the results speak for themselves.

All right, hope that helps. Do hit me up. It's www dot Adam liette.com. So great to have you for another episode of the show.

If you have any comments, any questions, any suggestions, things you'd like to hear me? Talk about? Please do just send me a quick email. It's Adam at Adam liette.com look forward to hearing from you until next time, keep getting after it operate.

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