Leading From Home Learning 1: Creating one-on-one time
Updated: Sep 25, 2020
When the time of The Great Office Shutdown came in March, my first reaction was: no more commute and work in sweat pants? Sign me up! Then as the first days passed, the reality of the pandemic descended and the "new normal" kicked in, what I started to realise was that the biggest casualty of this way of working was the thing that people love the most. How many times have you heard someone say "the job's kind of OK, but I stay for the people?" In a time when we all feel isolated and segregated, losing the lifeline of the people you chat to over lunch becomes an even greater blow than it might normally be.
It quickly became obvious that replicating the way my team worked in the office a) wasn't possible and b) wasn't the answer. So I decided that we were going to have a new normal of our own and set out to find new ways to be a team at a distance. I will share these over the next few weeks
Learning 1: Weekly one-on-ones for everyone
One of the casualties of the work-from-home life is the loss of the questions that get asked in passing your desk or office, the chats at the coffee machine, and the humanity of the simple questions like "how was your weekend?". It's hard to recreate that spontaneity when you spend your time staring at a Zoom screen, but it's very possible to create a more inentional one-on-one relationship. I have always had weekly one-on-ones with my direct reports, but I have extended them to every member of my team. The 30 minutes is theirs to do with what they will. Sometimes we talk about projects of the moment. Sometimes it's organisational updates. Sometimes we just chat about what we watched on Netflix at the weekend. Normally it's a combination of all these and more. It's not a groundbreaking insight,, but the people who work for you are... people. Your conversations don't all have to be 100% about work, and by creating a stronger personal relationship makes you more approachable and your employees more likely to have the confidence to seek counsel and direction. People are often concerned about putting this type of meeting in a leader's calendar because they "must be so busy". So make the meeting come from you. It tells your employees they matter enough for you to take the time even in this crazy COVID world.