Better Management Meetings in 3 Steps
So much has been written about meetings. Most of it centers on how wasteful, inefficient, ineffective, and boring they can be. Yet, paradoxically, we recognize that meetings are a necessary part of organizational life. While meetings large and small all have their place, few are more important than one-on-one meetings between managers and their direct reports.
Irrespectively of their frequency, these one-on-one meetings provide a valuable opportunity for focused, meaningful input, feedback, and sharing of pertinent information. By following this important three-step approach, you’ll bring needed structure and get far better outcomes from your time together.
I call these one-on-ones “20-20” meetings. Here’s why.
Set your meetings with direct reports on a schedule. You may determine whether these should take place monthly, weekly, twice a month; whichever works best for you both. Rule No. 1 is that once a meeting schedule is set, it should not be changed or amended unless a major obstacle or problem occurs.
Both the manager and the direct report create a “20-20” file. The purpose of this file is so that each party may place documents, notes and reminders of items to discuss during the next “20-20”. Many times, I would encounter a report of mine during the day and a topic would come up. I would ask if it could wait until our “20-20”. Most times, the answer was yes.
Just prior to the meeting, each participant reviews the content of the file they have been creating since the last “20-20”. A brief review allows for prioritization and in some cases, elimination of items for discussion (some of these may have already been addressed).
Now for the meeting. It is one hour in length and that time is closely guarded. For the first 20 minutes, one party reviews the items they have prioritized (having only 20 minutes can really help you focus!). Now here’s the key to making this work. While this is going on, there is no talking by the second party. No questions, no comments only active listening. Once 20 minutes are up, the next party takes their turn for 20 minutes. The final 20 minutes of the hour are left for discussion, dialogue and at times, debate.
This structure will seem odd at first, especially the need to remain quiet and let the other person talk for 20 minutes with little or no comment. You may be amazed however, at how much your ability to listen increases when that is all you are permitted to do!
Items left over go back in the file for next time. This may help you determine the frequency of your “20-20” meetings (that is, if there are substantive issues you don’t get to, set the next meeting sooner.
These “20-20” meetings can go a long way toward increasing effective communication with direct reports.
For more information and some helpful tools to get you started, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.