One-on-ones are extremely common in business – but usually, the results are a little lackluster. Team members and leaders alike often dread the conversations, while it’s hard to show they’ve meaningfully improved performance.

With the right approach, one-on-ones can actually be your most powerful tool for performance management.

Learn about a few common problems with one-on-ones, and how you can do better.

They Don’t Happen Often Enough

Oftentimes, leaders only hold one-on-ones with their teams on occasion. Maybe it’s quarterly, maybe it’s once a year. The worst is having one-on-ones only when there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

Regardless, it shows where a leader’s priorities really lie. If we want our teams to perform, it’s important that they believe their leaders care about them and want them to succeed.

But if our leaders are only taking the time to discuss key concerns, offer feedback and suggestions, and otherwise get to know their team members once a year, what message does that send?

We recommend holding one-on-ones monthly at a minimum, and ideally every week. It doesn’t have to be a very involved conversation, but it shows team members that you care about them, you want to know how they’re doing, and that you’re there to support them. These are key building blocks of effective leadership that drives performance.

Leaders Aren’t Supported in Talking About Tough Issues

Another key challenge with traditional one-on-one conversations is that leaders aren’t supported enough! Let’s face it, one-on-one conversations are hard. It’s not easy to coach others. It’s even harder to address awkward topics like lagging performance or attitude issues.

If we want one-on-ones to have a real impact on engagement and retention, we have to give leaders the tools to handle these conversations gracefully and effectively. HR can play a key role in educating leaders about how to gently address performance challenges while being honest about the changes that need to occur.

We Don’t Address the Human Factor

The last problem we’d like to talk about is that most one-on-one conversations don’t even touch the human factor. Every leader will touch on someone’s workplace performance, but how often do we discuss personal topics that may be affecting workplace performance?

We all know that our work lives can affect our home lives and vice versa. The whole person comes to work. Many leaders are afraid to cross a boundary and “get too personal” with their teams, but it’s important that we get to know them as people and learn some key details about what’s happening in their lives.

In one-on-one conversations, it’s important to ask team members about what’s going on in their lives and show genuine interest here.

Team members may be going through personal difficulties, and if we know that, we can either potentially give them some much-needed patience in the workplace, or work on strategies to support them.

By letting a struggling parent work a flexible schedule, you may be able to improve their personal life while also letting them contribute more at work when it best fits their schedule.

If you’re interested in addressing these challenges and more, schedule a call with us today to learn more about our platform for turning one-on-ones into your most powerful performance management tool.