I'm planning running monthly meetings with each team member, to review progress against their goals, and also ensure that every 30 days, they are doing the impactful work to hit these goals (both professionally, but also for what the business needs).
I DON'T want these to be formal top-down meetings. Instead, I want to use it as an informal but structured way for the team members to lead, and outline, their strengths (which they want to optimise), their weaknesses (which they want to get to a level of acceptability (or grow) AND the path of work which they believe will put us on a path to hitting our commercial targets.
Has anyone had success here?
I think you are on the right track. I would have these meetings every two weeks, because people tend to forget their purpose (salespeople forget their jobs when they go home on the weekend and need to be retrained the following Monday!).
Limit the meetings to 30 or 60 minutes. They should be fast-paced.
Make sure you build in not only the company goals, but also the individual's goals. Figure out how to connect the two together and you'll unleash double the motivation. People get more excited when they realize the "What's In It For Me" (WIIFM) Factor.
So you discover one staffmember has an interest in photography. OK, how can photography be included in achieving the corporate goals for this individual? Between the two of you, figure out how to glue these two together. Make sure the staffer has full involvement in the solution: if you dictate it to them, it just becomes 'another job'.
They must have ownership.
One of the big secrets in doing this is that it hugely improves customer service. Employees are excited to be there, and have a sense of buy-in because they HAVE bought in.
Also, two of the three big problems of fast-growing companies (lack of focus, and communication problems, with the third being increasing cash flow) are avoided.
This is work. But it could easily be the most important work you do. I personally believe the training of a focus like this is critical for businesses; it's one of the two 'secret weapons' I teach. If you're eager to discuss this process in further detail, let's book a call.
Start by talking and getting to know your team better.
Whenever you lead a meeting or perform any function that involves your team, the question you should always be asking yourself is "Am I setting this person up for success?"
There is not any specific framework or methodology for becoming a "better leader." It is ultimately dependent on you and the people on your team. Everyone is different and simple emulation of small things here or there may help in the short-term. Constantly evaluate and critique yourself after every function. Read body language and see where you could improve. Everyone can always improve something.
There is a great essay written by Yishan Wong on this topic: http://algeri-wong.com/yishan/the-secret-to-career-success.html
When you meet with someone who reports to you, you should already know what their progress is in top priority projects/deadlines they are responsible. The meeting should be to confirm those things, especially if it's only once per month.
The unscheduled informal moments are the most important in leading someone. This is when you can ask about something specific, talk for a few minutes about nothing, check status, pass on info, just ask generally how's it going, You must be sincere in these little encounters and not look for just a one way communication.
This all depends on how many people work directly for you; the more there are the less time you have for each. That's why little 5 minute conversations are so important.
The 30 minute monthly meeting can then be a review of all the things discussed in the past 30 days plus bigger picture topics like goals, insights, problem areas.
Manage your professional relationship - you're above them in the organization. This can be difficult when you're more informal but can be done. Reinforce what they do vs. what you do.
Great question regarding how you can become a more effective role model and leader. There's a lot you can do to achieve that.
Over the last few decades, research in industries as diverse as manufacturing, software development and healthcare, in countries spanning the globe from Japan to Europe to the USA, have reached a consensus on the essential characteristics of High Performance Cultures.
Researchers at Stanford University set out to determine how much influence organizational culture has on business success. They tracked the fate of almost 200 Silicon Valley startups over eight years. The results were startling. They found that one particular cultural style outperformed all others. In fact, adopting the top-performing cultural model increases the likelihood of a successful IPO by a whopping 625%, compared to companies with no well-defined cultural model.
In Japan,Toyota developed the Toyota Production System to become the world’s largest auto manufacturer. The Toyota Production System is, at its heart, a cultural transformation. As Toyota opened manufacturing plants in the USA, the system spread to other industries and became known more generally as Lean Leadership. For the last 10 years, leading organizations have been successfully applying Lean Leadership principles in diverse industries such as healthcare retail, travel, government, and financial services.
In the intensely competitive Internet world, the Agile software development approach has swept the industry as the only competitive approach to software development. While Agile includes a project management framework, more than anything else, it is, again, a cultural transformation that leads to higher quality, productivity and competitive success.
Google, a company obsessed with data and analysis, applied their analytical tools to investigate why some of their internal teams failed while others were highly productive. They investigated hundreds of factors from the skill mix of the team members, the types of projects they were working on, the mix of personality styles on a team and many other factors. After crunching billions of bits of data, they discovered only one factor that consistenty determined whether a team was unsuccessful or sucessful. You guessed it: there were some very specific cultural factors that separated the teams that deliver low performance from those that deliver high performance.
These research projects took radically different approaches, and their models for High Performance Cultures came from diverse industries with employees ranging from unskilled manual workers to knowledge workers with doctoral degrees.
Surprisingly, all these different approaches ended up coming to almost identical conclusions about the characteristics of High Performance Cultures.
It turns out that in *all* cultures and industries, staff at all levels fee that:
Their managers care about them
- They are treated fairly and respectfully
They are in control of their own destiny
- Their opinions are valued
- Their input is thoughtfully considered and used
- They are encouraged to make decisions about their own work
If you focus on these factors in your meetings, you'll be well on your way to becoming an effective role model for your team. (I do provide trainings for leaders in the skills to accomplish this.)
In part it would be interesting to know how many team members you're referring to, since it may be a time consuming task to set aside 1/2 hr for each. Having participated in numerous 1:1 calls i would say an effective approach is to have an agenda communicated in advance. This can be a standard agenda (project work / status / next steps / obstacles / growth opportunities / fun fact). After the first meeting you may have specific follow ups, per person, based upon the discussion. People like continuity so it would be helpful to include the later in your follow up meetings. It also shows you care enough to follow up. There are times when the staff may open up to you... Be careful you're setting a professional example and not making these 'pal' meetings. You don't want to show favoritism to any of the employees or these will turn into whine and cheese sessions. It's important that you understand the company vision / mission / values (ie. collaboration/ integrity / accountability / etc ) and use these as a base for any feedback. It's also important that you understand your company guidelines for diversity / discrimination / etc, so you're not overstepping bounds. Ideally, you don't want to tell ppl exactly what to do, but guide them. Get their input on how they would solve problems rather than you being the solutioner. You can add a lighteness to the meeting by remembering tidbits about each person or sharing a story you have. The most important thing of all though is to be an interested, active listener, coach and mentor (aka if you're on your computer, answering emails / im's / taking phone calls / appearing otherwise distracted this won't work well). Any q's please feel to reach out to me.
Everyone has great suggestions, but there is one thing you can do to begin with that will set the tone for all of your interactions going forward, and will have a huge positive impact on your relationship with your team: Listen!
When someone is speaking, don't interrupt unless it's to ask a clarifying question. Don't interject with solutions right away, let the person speak their mind. Sometimes they will come up with their own solutions just by talking through the problem. Don't feel like, because you are their boss, you have to fix everything.
I'd be happy to chat more about active listening, developing empathy, and leading with emotional intelligence. The fact that you are intentionally pursuing effective leadership puts you on the right track already!
The key is to ask them what their vision is, what skill set do they truly want to master and understand the why. Then you find the point of intersection where your visions and goals collide.
Then agree on a clear, unopinionated pass/fail goal for every quarter. At that point, then start asking how they think you can achieve this goal together.
I think informal is good, but structure is key. Keeping it light and relational will help you develop trust and making the meeting more worth everyone's time. Have a few designated minutes at the beginning where you catch up on personal things, ask about family, what's going on outside of the office etc. Try to be as genuine as possible.
Then get right down to business using a template that both of you have to follow for the duration of the meeting. It will save time, and help both of you take the meeting more seriously, if there is something the person needs to have prepared on the template in advance.
In addition to the monthly goal that you set, breaking it down to weekly or even daily increments, depending on the person will be helpful. Meeting just once a month is often times not enough, but can be necessary due to time constraints or if you are just starting this process. Try to send a follow up email or make a phone call a week out to check in on progress.
I would also suggest reading books that you can share stories from and then pass along. Anything to deepen your knowledge and then share will help! There are so many great ones, I like The Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck to start.