I’ve been doing 1on1s with my 5 directs for nearly 6 months now. They are going great and I really feel that I have rock solid relationships with the 5 now.

One of the 5 is a manager herself, of 5 people. I would like her to start doing 1on1s, perhaps just once a month at first. I may call them something else, to get her enthusiastic about them. She would gain from having regular private chats with her team. She has good relationships right now but every conversation she has with the team is across the cubicle walls, so nobody ever has a chance to speak their mind.

Obvioulsy I can just ask her to start doing a monthly/weekly 1on1s, but what’s the best way to handle this? Please note that I am a Western manager working in a firm in Asia, so I can’t be as direct as I’d be back home. 

mattpalmer's picture

Train your manager how to be a good manager.  I'm developing a course for all of the team leads I'm taking on, covering the trinity, some other good MT stuff, like running team and project meetings, and a few company-specific things.  The most important part of the whole training course, though, is one session where I talk about what I expect from leaders.  Those expectations include building good relationships.

The key though, I think, is not just to say, "I expect you to do one-on-ones with all your people every week".  That might get them doing the *form* of it, but it won't get them committed to it.  I plan on introducing my expectations by prefacing it with a socratic session about how you can "make" someone do something.  That will end with talking about relationship power, which will lead into "how can you build relationships?  Through one-on-ones!"

I've done a modified form of this with two other managers within the organisation (who don't report to me) who started at about the same time.  They've shown excellent engagement with their one-on-ones -- far greater than anyone else in the company (except perhaps me).  It certainly seems to be effective so far; let's see if it continues its good run.

GlennR's picture

Does she have one or more performance objectives dealing with developing her own people? If so, write 03's into the relevant one.

dmurtagh's picture

 Does she have one or more performance objectives dealing with developing her own people? If so, write 03's into the relevant one.



She does not. I guess I should give her that objective in our up and coming review. It would also be wise for me to get her to develop them, in case she ever leaves (unlikely any time soon).


GlennR's picture


Developing employees isn't just done because a supervisor might leave. It's done because it makes for a better employee who hopefully is more engaged and productive.

All managers in my organization have the following performance objective:

Create a performance culture by empowering (insert names of directs here) with clear performance expectations, maintaining weekly meetings to support, coach and provide feedback on strengths and areas for development, and having timely and complete midpoint and year-end reviews.

Now, the grammar could be better, but note that this objective clearly calls for weekly meetings. You can imagine the big grin on my face when I realized O3's were required of all managers. Note also the word, "development" is in every manager's objectives.

Employee development could very well be the key differentiator between good and great organizations.

svibanez's picture

I've been struggling with how to more effectively develop one of my directs who is a front-line manager.  We've been doing 1 on 1s for a couple of years now to great effect, and I have been trying to figure out how to get him to do the same.  Your comment opened my eyes - all managers in my company get graded on our ability to develop others.  It was right there in front of me the whole time!


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dmurtagh's picture

 Any goals that exist in my organization are merely lip service. There is almost no well thought out management going on here. I am the only manager I know of who meets consistently with team members. Turnover must be 70-100% per year. It's a rotten company, but it's the best job i can get right now and because of the limited supervision, I'm free to follow the principals of MT. 

mattpalmer's picture

The nice thing about being in a crummy organisation with poor oversight is that you can really stand out by doing the simple stuff.  You don't have to *be* great to look great (not that you shouldn't be great, but you get what I mean).  In this situation, you've got carte blanche to really learn how to execute and apply good management principles and measure yourself against your peers.  Do well, build relationships with the higher-ups, and there's a pretty good chance you will see rapid promotion and an increase in organisational power in quick time, which will allow you to roll out good management practices across a wider cross-section of the company.  Don't be too surprised if your success encourages others to emulate it, too -- you can't be the only person who wishes that your company was better run.