5 Key Strategies for Effective Leadership Communication with Employees

Due to the busyness of daily work and the urgency of various deadlines, many people may consider one-on-one meetings between superiors and subordinates as a waste of time. However, without one-on-one communication, it can lead to employee turnover, which in turn affects the organization’s goal achievement.

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So, what should managers do to ensure that regular one-on-one communication is conducted efficiently? How can high-quality one-on-one meetings leave team members feeling energized rather than ‘drained’?

01 – More Meetings Increase Job Satisfaction

According to Humu’s research, having one-on-one meetings at least once a week leads to higher job satisfaction among employees.

Maintaining a certain meeting frequency helps reduce negative emotions that can arise during meetings, such as anxiety and fear. Data shows that employees who participate in meetings weekly experience a 20% reduction in anxiety and a 17% reduction in fear compared to those who attend meetings less frequently. Overall, they report a 12% increase in their sense of success at work.

02 – Establish Consensus on the Goals of ‘One-on-One’ Meetings

During one-on-one meetings, both parties often experience anxiety, awkwardness, or fear due to differing expectations. This is often because managers and employees lack a common set of goals and agendas. For some, these one-on-one conversations may feel forced, or they may be influenced by preconceived notions of what a one-on-one should be like.

To make these meetings more meaningful, it’s best for managers and employees to collaboratively set the conversation’s goals. Managers should understand the personal needs of their employees and define different agendas based on their unique situations and stages. This helps reduce anxiety during the meetings and makes better use of the meeting time.

03 – Five Questions to Set Your Agenda

Many managers forget to adequately prepare for meetings with their subordinates and may hastily arrange agendas or even improvise. This approach often leads to scattered discussions that do not support employees in achieving their work goals.

To better organize your agenda, managers should keep it concise and focused on the most important topics for employee growth. Understand what issues employees want to discuss during the meeting.

Here are five key questions that managers can focus on:

  1. How is your work progressing?
    This provides specific time for self-reflection and recognition.
  2. Can I help resolve any issues?
    This can clarify directions, overcome obstacles, involve tactical details, prioritize tasks, provide feedback, and ensure task consistency.
  3. What is currently your top priority?
    Regularly adjusting priorities allows for a clearer understanding of employees’ work and can also identify long-term development needs or important feedback.
  4. Is there anything new or upcoming that I should be particularly aware of?
    This can help identify potential issues early, address them, and provide support.
  5. How are you doing outside of work?
    Covering topics beyond work helps build personal relationships and trust, reducing the risk of proximity bias.

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04 – Focus on Outcomes, Not Processes

Overemphasizing specific processes during discussions with employees can lead to micromanagement and fail to ensure successful outcomes. Questions like ‘What are you doing today?’ or ‘How are you doing it?’ can make reporting seem more like an interrogation than a conversation.

Managers should concentrate on the objectives, provide clear direction to employees, and allow them to achieve the goals in the most meaningful way.

Managers can discuss expected outcomes with their direct reports and ask them to propose several possible next steps. This empowers employees to have a say in the project while allowing managers to monitor progress, provide feedback, or help correct mistakes as needed.

This approach enhances employees’ psychological safety, allowing managers to lead with trust. It also encourages employees to experiment, embrace failure, and make improvements without fear.

When employees feel they don’t have enough safety to make mistakes, they may silently struggle instead of openly addressing difficulties, seeing managers as resources to solve problems.

05 – Follow Up Promptly to Prevent Issues from Escalating

For employees, few things are more frustrating than issues left unaddressed. Managers should document meeting content, review it, and complete relevant actions before the next meeting. When employees see managers follow through on commitments, trust is built, which is crucial for establishing long-term trust relationships.

When a difficult conversation is needed, following up through other means like email can help ease some emotional friction. Managers should provide timely clarifications and constructive feedback, offering clear guidance for the next steps.

By employing these five methods, managers can conduct one-on-one meetings more effectively, foster meaningful interactions, and achieve better outcomes. Don’t just have mechanical meetings; make one-on-ones a beneficial exchange that both employees and managers look forward to.

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