Get Vastly More Results from One-on-Ones with Your Direct Reports

2 Minutes Read

One of the more critically important responsibilities as a CEO or business owner is enhancing the growth of individuals who report directly to you. The more these men and women are empowered to assume control of day-to-day operations, the more freedom you have to devote to strategy and vision, two activities that will dramatically further the growth of your business.

Just as members of Catapult Groups benefit from one-on-one strategic consulting sessions with their Group Leaders, so should you be conducting one-on-ones with your direct reports on a regular basis. This is the time the two of you can focus on those aspects of the business with the greatest effect on future success, including:

  • The status of ongoing assignments and projects
  • New strategic initiatives
  • Current and anticipated obstacles to execution
  • Short-term and long-range goals
  • New ideas

Why Have One-on-Ones?

Conducting one-on-ones may seem like yet another task to find time for in an already very busy schedule, but the payoff (when done well) is worth the time and effort. Productive one-on-ones lead to enhanced communications and stronger personal relationships. They address current problems and identify future issues. They improve execution and they directly impact your direct report’s personal and professional growth.

Here are a few tips for getting more from these sessions:

Meet often
Schedule a time and day every week (or at the least, every other week) for a half-hour or one-hour session. Don’t keep putting off this meeting because something else comes up (something else will always come up). One-on-ones don’t work if they only take place once in a while. A regular schedule means both you and your direct report are committed to taking the time to focus on significant strategic and operational issues.

Minimize distractions
Your office may not be the ideal setting for a one-on-one, particularly if your assistant or others can interrupt or distract you. Choose a setting where there are no interruptions or distractions. This will enable you and your direct report to discuss the topics on your agenda and then get back to work without delay.

Be patient
A Group Leader knows how to ask questions in a one-on-one that provoke discussion and foster a member’s growth. The same dynamic can occur in one-on-ones with your direct reports, but they require patience on your part. You may clearly see the solution to a direct report’s dilemma, but real growth only happens when the direct report works it out himself. Control your impatience. Ask helpful questions. Keep at it until results start to happen.

Listen carefully
Listening is just as important as anything you have to say. This is the place for strengthening your empathy skills. Listen not just to what the direct report is saying, but what seems to be happening behind those words. This makes you a more efficient and effective leader.

Don’t think of this as a performance review
The one-on-one is not the place to evaluate the past three months of your direct report’s performance. Instead, the focus is on what’s happening now in the business and the actions he or she can take to favorably influence what happens in the future.

Agree on goals
As part of the forward-thinking process, identify specific goals for the direct report. Clarity about your expectations will help guide their performance. This way, you’re both on the same page and likely to stay that way.

If you’re ready to ready to join other CEOs, managers and senior-level executives in a confidential group setting—where you’ll be challenged and rewarded like never before in your professional life—we invite you to learn more about becoming a Catapult Group member today.

Brad Mishlove