How Leaders Can Communicate [Much] Better with Surprisingly Little Effort and Change – Part Two

In our last post, we talked about the importance of effective communication with team members. One of the best ways to improve communication with teams of any size is to conduct regular one-on-one meetings with each team member. Below are some more nuts and bolts tips for how to ensure the success of such meetings and maximize the sense of connection they create.

1. Meet in person if possible.

When conducting a one-on-one with a team member, in-person meetings are the best choice. Seeing a person’s face while you talk provides you with valuable cues you wouldn’t have over the phone, such as body language and facial expressions. If in-person meetings are not feasible, conduct the meeting via Skype or another such video method, instead. By being there to pick up the subtle, non-verbal clues from your people, you’ll find it much more intuitive to connect with them, anticipate their problems and share in their successes.

2. Talk about individual goals.

Although a large part of your meeting will focus on the activities of the team, don’t be afraid to bring up the individual’s professional goals. WHY is he or she doing this work? What PURPOSE does this work fulfill for the employee? We all need to believe that we’re working to accomplish great things – spend time just listening to those ambitions. Doing so shows the team member that you are interested in his or her personal advancement and (more importantly) in him or her as a human being! Make note of these goals so that you can reference them in the future.

3. Limit discussion on basic updates.

When you are meeting with every member of a team, hearing the same status updates is inevitable. Although you should spend a short amount of time discussing the team’s status, don’t waste an entire meeting on redundant stories and information. Focus on what matters.

4. Create concrete examples.

If you plan to discuss a certain idea at your meeting, consider creating a visual aid to help you explain your thoughts. Having this aid will also be beneficial when you or the team member attempts to share your ideas with others, implement them, criticize them or innovate based on them. People love stories, and they love metaphors!

5. Make actionable decisions a priority.

When you raise an issue in a one-on-one meeting, decide about the action you or the team member will take to resolve or address it. Without actionable decisions, you will encounter the same issues in subsequent meetings. Make all parties accountable for their actions after the meeting ends; conclude the meeting with a discussion of these intended actions.

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