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The other day a senior leader in a workshop with his team made a statement which caused me to raise an eyebrow. In fact, two eyebrows! He said “I don’t have time to do regular one-on-ones with my people at the moment”. It so happens that the division this person leads in their organisation (as well as other divisions) is being challenged by losing good people.

According to a research report by the organisation Hypercontext, managers who have regular one-on-one conversations are 1.5X more likely to retain their team.

One-on-ones provide a number of opportunities as part of your retention mix. These include:

  • Checking in on a regular basis to see how each team member is feeling, providing the opportunity to ask questions like “how are you really doing”? If they are unsettled or currently somewhat disengaged with their role, regular one-on-ones will tease this out, and present the chance to address it before they hand in their notice.
  • Coaching opportunities – to help understand the key challenges people are facing and help them work through those challenges so they don’t feel that have to solve them on their own.
  • Career path conversations – some managers shy away from these, either because they don’t really want to hear a persons vision for their next career steps, or they’re stuck in short term thinking – that the only thing that matters is the employee doing their current job well. Certainly, Gen Y employees are looking for line of sight to their next role. If they can’t see this they are more likely to start to look elsewhere.
  • Setting development goals – not just performance goals, it is critical that development goals are set and revisited. Research reveals that Gen Z employees particularly value development in a role. So, if managers want to keep them, then aligning on a blended development plan that has training, coaching, mentoring, shadowing, secondment and committee opportunities will keep people longer.
  • Understanding the key drivers of your people – if you are not spending enough one-on-one time with your people then it’s difficult to get a key understanding of what motivates them. Also, motivations can change over time based on people’s circumstances. For example, job flexibility may be important at one stage and less so at another stage of a person’s career.

Coming back to that senior leader who said they didn’t have time for one-on-ones; three of their team members flagged that more one-on-one time with the leader was something they valued and wanted.

In the current war for talent, you want to stack the odds in your favour. So don’t underestimate the power of a regular one-on-ones as part of the mix in keeping your people.

Scott Erskine

Scott Erskine

Scott has successfully delivered leadership and performance solutions for management across a number of industries including retail, resources, construction, government and finance and has worked with organistions such as BHP Billiton, Woodside, Rio Tinto, Veolia, Western Power, GESB, Ramsay Healthcare, Police & Nurses Mutual Banking, Flight Centre, and the Australian Defence Forces.