I was recently talking to a friend who owns a successful business. We were talking about customers and people and leadership and management blah, blah. The topic of dealing with reports came up (the people who report to you not the written kind of reports).
We discussed how it is important that people report to only one leader or manager. This precludes conflicting information and direction and the confusion that happens when people are forced to have split loyalties. Each manager must be the source of direction for his or her own reports.
We also discussed the difficulties of communication that arise when the work force is geographically scattered and technologically diverse and have a variety of objectives.
I, of course, have a very strong opinion on the subject of communication. I believe that communication with your reports is the easiest thing in the world. Yes, I said that it is easy.
It is easy when you have a On-On-One program in place. To review, this means that you meet with each individual report once a week, maybe every two weeks (not recommended) for 30 minutes. Ten minutes belongs to your reports to discuss anything they want – family, sports, cats, dogs, anything. Ten minutes belongs to you to do the same thing.
The last ten minutes belongs to the organization – you both discuss how the organization is doing, how each of you is helping meet the corporate goals and how you can help each other to meet those goals.
It is a little uncomfortable when you first begin conducting One-On-Ones. I’ll tell you why. Because you haven’t really been communicating with your people. Sure you say “hey” and give direction and talk sports or something but you have not been really communicating with each individual. You haven’t established a real relationship with the report. To be a leader you must establish relationships.
As the meetings continue, I guarantee that you each will begin to look forward to having them. Be sure to take notes so you can follow up on progress and to see how their sick kitty is doing. Relationships are established when you show a real concern and appreciation for each other and each others interests.
When I mention to someone that the issues they are having with people may be alleviated by establishing a One-On-One program, they balk. They immediately get defensive and tell me that they talk to their people all the time. Talking TO your people is not the same as talking With your people.
The next thing I hear is that they do not have the time to conduct One-On-Ones with their reports. Think about that statement. Here is the translation: “I do not have time to communicate well with my people.” How is communicating with your people NOT part of the job?
Sorry, I forgot how you are so important and have more immediately pressing things to do like golfing and surfing the web and writing reports that don’t get read by anyone.
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