Three ways we successfully improved our team one-on-one catchups

January 4, 2021David Scott


Three ways we successfully improved our team one-on-one catchups

It’s always tricky to find ways to add value during one-on-one catch ups with colleagues; finding a combination of collaborative vs. directive, personal vs professional, micro vs macro.

It’s natural to question the balance on these things and you feel like you never get it right and therefore needs constant reflection and improvement. So when you land on something that helps, it’s good to share.

At BrewHub, we changed three key ways we conduct one-on-ones about 12 months ago, and it made an impact across the organisation.

Frequency

We had less of them, but they went for longer. The change was a response to discussions we had been having with individuals in which it was clear that the number one thing that our people wanted from their manager is space.

Space and time to a have real conversation.

The extra time meant we could properly communicate why things were the way they were.  Conversations that started something like, “Yes, A plus B does equal C, but that’s not the whole story…”.  If you have ever been in a situation like this as a manager you know you are about to get an insight.  Hold onto your hat!  People felt heard, and we started to understand the context of performance beyond task completion.

Location

We changed where we did them. After being in our current location for five years, we discovered we had a pristine river walk 5 minutes’ drive from our office.  We now have many of our catch ups walking in nature, with running water and bird song.

Somebody will be able to explain the science, but this environment impacts communication.  We saw problems on a longer time scale, with a broader awareness.

We saw an increase in innovative ideas.

It was a hell of a lot more enjoyable which for us supports our core value of sustainability.

Focus

We changed the focus. For many years we focussed on the to-do list before every meeting and HAD to walk away with agreed action items. Very efficient but not much fun and gees it’s a grind after a while.  We asked one simple question.

“How would one-on-ones change if the relationship was the number one focus?”

Well the short answer was that meetings turned from a tone of subtle surveillance to being empowering and promoting autonomy.  It turns out that everyone knew the to-do list anyway, already had an idea how to solve the problems and really just needed support to get it done.  What they really needed help with was “insert something you didn’t know here”.  It gave people agency, and we had better informed managers as a result.

Given more space, the right environment and a change of focus the issues that may have gone unaddressed saw the light of day.  This tone started to trickle through the business and we hope that the equity we have built in our relationships has been a reason why the BrewHub team have not only coped with 2020, but thrived during this time.


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