Once upon a time, I recall reading that leaders regularly cancel meetings with direct reports for a variety of reasons, including being respectful of their direct report’s time and workload as well as because as leaders they are busy themselves. I admit this stuck with me and prompted me to reflect on the frequency with which I’d cancelled or rescheduled meetings with direct reports.
Upon reflection I discovered I’d been guilty of this far too often and took some deliberate steps to change my behavior.
I did two things to change and I continue with them to this day.
First, I scheduled a 30-minute standing meeting with my direct reports that we maintain with 95% frequency—even during crunch times. The second thing I did was to identify the types of questions I want answers to during a meeting.
The questions I provide to my direct reports are listed below.
- Are you waiting on me to make any decision that is keeping you from doing something you need to do?
- What are your most immediate concerns? What is keeping you up at night?
- What are you thinking about that needs to happen six months from now?
- What is the one thing you can’t get yourself to do? How long have you been avoiding it? How can I help you get it done?
- What do you need from me in the next two weeks? Two months?
- Are there any “areas of gray” we need to clarify?
- What are you reading these days? Why does it matter and/or related to your job? Are you making time to read?
- Are you actively working to define your work philosophy? (i.e. What do you stand for professionally and as a leader?)
- What is one thing you think I do that you would like to know more about?
- 10. Are you proud of the job you are doing?
The 30-minute meetings I have with direct reports seldom (if ever) include a question by question run down. But, these questions, without question, drive the information provided by my direct reports and provide the kind of focus necessary to make regular meetings worthwhile.
A take-away for leaders (even during crunch time) is to maintain your meetings and give them focus so they are worthwhile even while there are competing priorities.
How do you respond to the idea of 30-minute meetings on a regular basis (for me and my direct reports it’s weekly)?
How do you respond to the idea of questions to structure the information shared and gained in such meetings?
How do you respond to the questions I ask of my direct reports? Are they worthwhile?
W. Kent Barnds a.k.a @bowtieadmission