The first 3 minutes of your 1-1 time with your employee matters more than you think!
Are you making the most use of it?
Like first impressions, those first few minutes of supervision conversations give your employees clues to how the meeting will go and thus what they are willing to put into it.
They will gauge your level of commitment before they give you theirs. Your staff will be able to tell by your actions and demeanour.
Consider asking, "How are you doing?" while checking your phone, finishing up emails fumbling through papers, or before you even have your camera on a zoom call. All of that can clearly demonstrate that you aren't ready. And if you've shown that you aren't prepared, why should they believe you are then interested in hearing their answer. They won't believe you will be empathetic, understanding, or curious if you aren't all there!
Setting the tone for a meeting in this way loses your opportunity to deepen your relationship with them, create engagement and build trust.
How to make the best use of the first three minutes of your meeting
Start by being prepared
1 - Have an agenda
You are the leader, lead the meeting. Know what you are covering and ensure the employee knows too. That means they should have seen the agenda ahead of time and could add their items.
2 - Show up a few minutes early
Running from one meeting to the next doesn't let you process what happened, make notes of things you need to follow up on or deal with nature's needs.
Try running meetings at intervals that give you a 10 - 15 minute break in between.
3 - Create the "right" energy for the conversation
If you want to motivate, inspire and engage your employee in the discussion, you will need to bring the energy that creates that. Too often, we come to meetings distracted, drained and doubting we'll have the input or outcome we desire.
Next, turn small talk into meaningful talk
If you've heard that you need to engage with your employees and create a relationship with them and think that one of the best ways to do that is to check-in and see how they're doing when you first start a conversation, you're right. But you may also find that it is useless, painful and drives you nuts, and you may even, as my client told me yesterday, think it's a waste of time.
You may be lacking success with the "small talk" tactic because you are asking superficial questions. You've probably heard the adage "garbage in...garbage out" Well, it's the same principle. If you are asking superficial questions, you'll likely get superficial answers.
How are you doing?
Be intentional about the questions you ask. Go back to the point above, and prepare ahead of time. Try preparing and then asking questions that get to their interests, values, their strengths and their passions.
Why would you want to ask these deeper levels of questions? Three reasons...
Need help with what to ask instead?
Below you will find some questions you can ask. Which questions you choose and how you adapt them will depend on your personality, style, and relationships. The context will be important to keep in mind too.
Try these questions to kick-off meetings
What other questions would you add? Post them below.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.