What Employees are longing for in a remote one-on-one

What Employees are Yearning For in Remote One-on-Ones

If you really want to connect and support your team, there’s no better place to start than a great cadence of meaningful one-on-ones.

And yet, even before this transition to remote work, when we would ask employees about their experience with one-on-ones, we often heard nervous laughter and responses like these:

“One-on-ones, what are those (hahaha)?”

“She has an open door. She tells us to come by whenever we want. (Of course, she’s never there. Hahaha)”

“I just count on windshield time with my manager between client visits. He’s so busy, that’s the only time I know I’ve got him captive (hahaha).”

“He just leaves me alone. I do a good job. I guess he would tell me if I was screwing up (hahaha).”

Obviously, these responses are less than ideal, but it’s even harder to wing it now. So much is changing—and fast.

In the last few months, when we’ve asked employees about one-on-ones, the tenor of the conversations has changed from nervous laughter to deep concern.

Employees are yearning for MORE DIRECTION and CONNECTION in their remote one-on-ones.

“Dear Boss, here’s what I need most in a remote one on one…”

Today we share what we’re hearing employees need most right now in their one-on-ones. We encourage you to share this article with your team and to talk about what’s working in your remote one-on-ones and what you can do to take them to the next level.

Clarity: Help Me Understand What’s Most Important Right Now

“I understand that you don’t have all the answers. Priorities change.  But please give me a fighting chance of working on the right things, because quite frankly, I’m feeling overwhelmed and I don’t have time for rework or wasted effort. Please use our one-on-one to ensure I know what matters most this week, and what I need to do to be successful.”

Caring: Show Me I Matter More Than My KPIs

“It’s been a rough week. I’m tired. I signed up to be a working parent, but not a working parent with no daycare! I know you’re busy, but before you jump right in and talk about the project, can you take a minute to see me and check-in to see if I’m doing okay?”

Consistency: Give Me a Cadence I Can Count On

“I know your heart is in the right place and that you’re being pulled in a million directions too. But this is the third time you’ve canceled our one-on-one. I had my list all ready to cover with you. And now I’ve got to track you down. I scheduled my one-on-ones with my team AFTER ours so I would have answers for them. Now I’m heading into those with unanswered questions which is embarrassing and is slowing all of us down.”

Credibility: Be Real With Me, So I Can Be Real With You

“You know what made me feel great, that one time when you opened up and really shared how you were feeling. It made me feel so much better to know that you’re scared and tired too. But since then, you’ve just been so perky and positive—and I wonder, are you for real?”

Capacity: Ask Me What I Need

What I need to hear more than anything right now is: “How can I be most helpful?”

Curiosity: Ask Me For Ideas

I’m learning a lot and I’ve got some great ideas about how we can do things better. But, I feel awkward sharing my ideas if I’m not asked.

Boss, I really care about you, this company, and our success. I’d love to have some time to pull up with you each week in a quick one-on-one to share as we work through this important time together.

Sincerely,

Your courageous employee.

Your Turn:

What would you add? What’s working well in your remote one-on-ones?

See Also:

How to Overcome One of the Biggest Challenges from Working From Home

How to Hold an Effective Mid Year Review in a Pandemic

Posted in Communication, Leading Remote Teams and tagged , , .

Karin Hurt David Dye

Karin Hurt and David Dye help leaders achieve breakthrough results without losing their soul. They’re the founders of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm. They're the award-winning authors of Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results Without Losing Your Soul. Karin is a top leadership consultant and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. David Dye is a former executive, elected official, and president of Let's Grow Leaders. Karin and David are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells - building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

7 Comments

    • Hi Teresa, Thanks so much. We would love for you to cite us. Karin Hurt and David Dye of Let’s Grow Leaders and a reference (or link) to the post would be great. Happy to spread the word!

  1. • Ensure your teams know you will have open conversation about how to support the Home-Work-School triangle and invite them to setup time to talk about it. Better yet, make it an important topic in your 1:1’s with more than a “How’s it going?” Push them to be specific about challenges.
    • As you uncover challenges, brainstorm on solutions. Can they set a different schedule without impacting the business need and team engagement?
    • Do not be so accommodating to be ambiguous. “Whatever you need to do is fine” may at first seem supportive, but you are setting them up for guilt and potentially failure due to a miscommunication on expectations.
    • When you decide on a solution, document it in writing for understanding and send it to the employee. Be specific.
    • Ask them to communicate to their teammates, stakeholders, and customers as needed. Consider setting OOOs for away periods and using the Skype “Set Your Location” feature to add whereabouts.
    • Set intervals for revisiting the situation and expectations and adjusting as needed.

    • Val, Thanks so much. These are all fantastic additions! We particularly like how you do what we call “schedule the finish” and set intervals for revisiting the situation.

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