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Quarterly 1-1s Are a Waste of Time

In this world of rapid change, quarterly meetings aren't enough.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Think back over the last 90 days, and ask yourself these questions: 

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  • What were the highs and lows for you? 
  • What worked, and what didn’t work?
  • Are you sure you have a complete list before you have your quarterly 1-1 conversation?
  • And more importantly, for those things that didn’t work, what were the potential missed opportunities because they remained unresolved?

Related: 5 Secrets of Masterful 1-1 Meetings

You are probably challenged to remember 90 days ago. My point is that 90 days in today’s rapidly changing world is a LONG time. A lot can happen that can impact an employee’s effectiveness and success. I cringe when I read recommendations that formal 1-1s should be done on a quarterly basis. One example is in the book How to Be a Great Boss by Wickman and BoerA whole chapter is dedicated to the quarterly conversation. Wickman says “you will improve your relationship with your direct reports, and ensure you’re continually on the same page.” I don’t know about you, but every 90 days in a rapid-paced environment does not ensure continually knowing what is going on with your employees.

This is why when training managers how to coach, I recommend 1-1 meetings, at a minimum, should be on a monthly basis. Those managers really committed to the process often have a rhythm of weekly 1-1s.

Some of you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking “I have enough meetings already” and “I talk to my team almost daily.” Both of those statements are probably true. But they also come with your own personal bias based on past experiences and pre-conceptions. So what if you took each of these statements and asked yourself these questions to shift your thought process:  

  • What issues arose in a recent quarterly 1-1 that I would have wanted to know much earlier?
  • How would monthly 1-1s improve my relationship with specific direct reports?
  • When I have unscheduled conversations with employees, what is not being said?

My philosophy with 1-1s is that they are about the employee, not you. They aren’t meant as a way to review your checklist but a time for the employee to discuss their goals, development plan and overall career. It is a time of questioning and active listening by you, the manager. You are there to guide the conversation and help the employee self-reflect on problems, upcoming issues and decisions they will be making.

Related: Without Management Standards Your Company Doesn't Know What It's Doing 

Monthly 1-1s will not only improve employee performance, but improve the relationship with your employee. Remember what Gallup’s research has shown over 30 years -- employees leave relationships not companies. And the most critical relationship within an organization is the manager-direct report relationship.

When reviewing Gallup’s Q12 survey, comprised of 12 questions, I am reminded of this very critical relationship. Only three of the 12 questions are not controlled by the manager-employee relationship.

  • Q8: The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • Q9: My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • Q10: I have a best friend at work.

Making a commitment today to invest in monthly 1-1s will not only improve your relationship with your employees but increase their effectiveness and engagement.  What are you waiting for? Now is the time to schedule those monthly meetings!

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