In one of our goal-setting sessions at Emplify, we once had a manager stand up and say that he was making it a goal to listen more in meetings. He had gotten some feedback that he had a tendency to talk over folks in meetings and ignore their proposals in favor of his own. By openly sharing this goal with his team, he showed them that he was committed to taking their feedback and growing himself. After that, this manager unlocked a trust in his team which gave them the permission to give him invaluable feedback.
Taking the time to understand how you can better yourself requires an incredible amount of vulnerability. It’s key to unlocking what it means to lead like a human and can inspire growth in those around you. How so? Well, when your people know you are committed to your own improvement, they know that they can be honest with you about their own paths toward growth. In a previous blog, I covered how to set goals and root them in a personal why. Today, I’ll go over how you can guide your people in their journey towards their goals. To do so, however, you must start off with your own growth.
When you’re open about your own development, you can be direct and candid with the feedback you give your people because you are both striving for improvement. You’ve created a commonality between you and your people. And your employees will likely embrace the feedback, knowing you’re on your own journey toward your own goals. This kind of feedback is a key driver in creating engaged cultures. Employees today are hungry for authenticity and self-development. They want leaders who can guide them to achieving their goals through honest feedback.
The Key to Leading Successful One on Ones
And as their leader, you should know your people’s goals inside and out. To do so, schedule weekly one-on-ones with each member of your team to discuss how they’re actualizing their growth plans and how you can help them along the way. A consistent and steady rhythm of feedback will help your people see how they’re progressing in their development and is a key driver to creating an engaged workforce.
These one-on-ones aren’t only for talking about goals or banging out a task list together. They’re meant to create a strong foundation for your relationships with your people. To that end, these weekly meetings should have a balance of tasks, goals, rapport, and feedback. It’s essential that you use this time to continue building a solid relationship with your employees, where you feel you can give constructive feedback that will be received.
This simple change in relationship is often what most unlocks the potential in your employees. They know they want to grow, but to get better they need feedback from having a trusting relationship with a manager whom they feel they can trust. Think of these meetings as road markers on your employees’ journey where you can help encourage them along in a way that’s authentic and true to everyone.
As you continue in these weekly one-on-ones, remember to focus on the progress they are making and not the end goal. You want them to feel that you know their journey as well as your own. Pursuing goals is a marathon, not a sprint, and they need endurance to get them where they want to be. Ask them how what they are doing today is affecting the shared goals you’ve outlined together. Do they feel closer to their goal or farther away? You want to use your time together to show them how what they are doing now will affect where they are heading in the future.
The Bigger Picture
Finally, schedule a quarterly meeting with your people as well to reflect on the larger scope of their journey. Quarterly conversations are a chance to go above the day-to-day and talk bigger about the future—performance, growth, and how their role is helping them live out their personal motivation. Because this meeting is meant to explore a bigger perspective, I recommend having this off-site (if you are able): somewhere you both feel comfortable and that gives you each a fresh perspective.
In the lead-up to a quarterly meeting with your employee, assign them homework to review their accomplishments and growth areas from the last quarter and to come in with one named area of improvement for the next quarter. Take the time to review their work for yourself and come up with your own area of growth for them. In the meeting, go over what you both have gleaned from looking back on the last quarter and what each of your areas of improvement are. Together, agree upon an official growth area for them, create an action plan and decide how you as a manager can best help in this journey.
In pursuing their own personal best, your people will unlock their collective power and create innovations you’ve never dreamed of. Problems that were thought to be unsolvable are suddenly solved. Innovation begins to skyrocket because your people are putting their heads and hearts into their work. When you start leading your people to achieving their goals like a human would, you create an unstoppable energy that will change your organization forever.
Ready to learn how to learn more about how you can harness the collective power of your people’s passions to transform your business? Grab a copy of Lead Like a Human here! In the book, I go more in depth on how to give feedback, lead successful one on ones, and help everyone in your organization achieve their true potential. As a leader, you owe it to your people to be the best version of yourself. Take your first step towards that today.