How To Simplify And Amplify The 1-On-1

A 1-on-1 should be a frequent, strength-based check-in about near-term future work.
— Marcus Buckingham

The 1-On-1, for most managers, is a necessary evil. It's something we feel we ought to do - but it doesn't have to feel that way. Today, I want to share a few shifts I've made that have breathed new life into the 1-on-1 check-ins with my Staff.

First, here are the layers of our organization: 


As Executive Pastor, I am in the Executive level of the organization and have all Directors reporting to me directly. So as a Manager, what role do I play in the success of the Directors on my team? I have always believed that I'm winning when Directors are given attention and authority. Yes, it's more complex than this but these are the two things I can boil it down to.

With attention, I'm letting them know they have constant access to me. I'm also communicating to them their work is valued and their problems and barriers are being heard.

With authority, I'm letting them know they are on the team because they are gifted to lead. They are the owners of their ministry - I'm hear to guide, support and cheer them on!

With all of this said, here are some recents shifts I have made to my 1-on-1s with my direct reports:

  1. From 60 minutes to 30 minutes
  2. From every other week to weekly
  3. From the urgent to the important

Our culture as a team is very family-oriented. We operate as a Missional Community more than a staff. We don't need to schedule meetings to fully check-in with one another, we do this every day, in every opportunity. Outside of our spouses, our most intimate relationships are found on our Staff Team. Therefore, 60 minutes wasn't needed. In the end, we were having redundant conversations for half of our time together. For maximum efficiency for them and myself, 30 minutes is more appropriate.

With the 30 minute decrease, the frequency can increase. I can now schedule a 30 minute check-in with every direct report on a Monday and by the end of the day I have a complete and vivid picture of what is going on in our organization. This is invaluable! I now know every Monday how our team is moving things forward any given week. As an introvert, I used to end #MeetingMonday completely exhausted and now I'm ending the day energized.

The format is simple and won't blow your mind. It's aimed at attention and authority as I mentioned above. Here it is:

  1. What wins are you celebrating?
  2. What challenges are you facing?
  3. What Wildly Important Goals are you prioritizing this week?
  4. How can I help?

I tried to warn's not rocket science. And I'm not sure it's supposed to be. 

@@1-on-1's, when leveraged, aren't an addition to your leading - they are leading.@@

Would you like to know more about the Wildly Important for your team? I can help! I love helping leaders lead towards the wildly important of vision achievement. Check out my Coaching page to get started today.