More managers are experiencing better communication and alignment with their employees when they conduct frequent 1-on-1 coaching sessions. Employees are getting the opportunities to share their achievements, frustrations, and career plans with their managers. Knowing that your managers care about your experience within the company and understanding the expectations set for you increase your engagement and motivation in the workplace. What many managers do not realize is that for 1-on-1s to be effective, they need to develop a program that will be sustainable in the long run. Not enough emphasis is put on conducting follow-up sessions. Not following up with your employees can quickly turn into a reason why they will start disliking 1-on-1 coaching sessions.
Managers use coaching sessions for the following reasons:
To be up-to-date with the employees: 1-on-1s allow managers to have a finger on the pulse of what the employees are doing. Employees share their objectives and key results so that managers can see whether they are aligned with the company’s objectives. Managers have a better understanding of what each of their direct reports are working on and how they can support them.
Career planning: Managers ask employees about their current priorities and what they want to achieve career-wise in the short term. This information is crucial as it helps managers build their talent pipeline. Talent management is an issue that HR professionals have to constantly deal with. By knowing your employees’ career path,
it enables managers and HR professionals create a plan to retain their best talent by taking proactive steps like providing them with training so that they are ready to move up to their desired role.
- Performance review: Managers and employees discuss what they have achieved, what they have learned, and what their next objectives will be. For employees who did not meet expectations, managers use the 1-on-1 session to develop an action plan with them to help them improve for the next project.
After these different coaching sessions, managers will usually write down the notes summarizing the discussions and share them with the employees and HR department. Often, the notes are being archived and only referred to during annual performance reviews. With no follow-up sessions, you are not using this information effectively. Coaching sessions slowly turn into a formality for managers.
It is a great initiative from your managers to conduct 1-on-1s with their team members. Employees are motivated to know that the managers have a keen interest in what they are doing. However, coaching sessions become frustrating for employees when there are no follow-ups. Why spend time talking about their careers plan or sharing the obstacles they are encountering when nothing is done about them? This is one main reason why you need to implement follow-up sessions within your employees coaching program. Follow-up sessions demonstrate your commitment to your employees. Follow-up sessions allow you to give real-time feedback to your employees on a continuous basis. Especially for employees who have created an action plan in the last session, follow-ups provide them with feedback on how they are doing and how they can improve if necessary. These sessions also allow you to receive feedback from your employees. For example, if you have discussed ways you can support them as a manager, follow-up sessions hold you accountable to make sure that you are actually delivering the support you have discussed. 1-on-1s need to be conducted on a continuous basis as you always want your employees to be motivated in order to achieve more.
Follow-up sessions can be done in different ways. Some managers prefer them to be more formal as the first 1-on-1 sessions i.e. they will write down notes and add them to the employees’ files. Other managers rather keep the follow-up sessions as being more informal; to get a quick update on the progress and provide feedback in real time. Regardless of how you decide to conduct your follow-up sessions, here are some guidelines on how to prepare for them:
Commit to a follow-up session at the end of your first 1-on-1 – Discuss with your employees when they would like to have a follow-up session. Negotiate a set day and time when you will conduct the follow-up session. Meanwhile, you can have weekly informal meetings to catch up on their progress if needed.
Review your notes from previous 1-on-1s – As a manager, you should know what you last discussed with your employees. The purpose of a follow-up meeting is to catch up on what you have talked about in previous sessions and evaluate the current situation. Previous notes also allows you to prepare an agenda.
- Share the agenda of the follow-up sessions with the employees – Give your employees a snapshot of what you want to talk to them about in the follow-up sessions. For example, you want to evaluate the progress of the employees’ action plan or discuss how the company can help the employees move up to a more senior position. An agenda enables your employees to prepare for the meetings in advance so that at the start of the meeting, both parties are on the same page on what the session is about.
- Do not turn the follow-up sessions into a performance review – Although you may want to evaluate the progress of your employees, keep in mind that the follow-up session is a platform for your employees to tell you about themselves. Remember that your role is to coach your employees, not to manage them. We know employees hate performance appraisals. Also traditional performance appraisals are simply not effective. Therefore, make sure that your follow-up sessions are about them and are not entirely focused on evaluation.
1-on-1 coaching sessions are not enough by themselves. You have to encourage your managers to take a proactive approach to coaching i.e. do not wait for your employees to set up a follow-up session. Your managers should be the ones taking the initiative together with the employees to follow up with each other. Do not underestimate the power of follow-ups. They are a great way for you to nurture your relationship with your employees. They will see that you care about their success in the organization and that you are committing to supporting them. Follow-up sessions make your employees coaching program more effective and sustainable.Tags: 1-on-1 coaching, 1-on-1s, better alignment and communication, career planning, coaching sessions, follow up sessions, following up with employees, performance reviews