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October 2018

Hello and welcome to the October 2018 edition of our Monthly Leadership Tips: your 'once a month'  'bite-sized' chunks of practical leadership wisdom!

This month we share :
We often post the blogs in this publication on Linked In.

Found something useful? Why not pay it forward and share a copy with your colleagues! Forward a copy of this email or send this link to join the DiA Monthly Leadership Tips list!

We also use the content we share each month, in the work we do in our consulting practice. Feel free to get in touch to find out more about anything in this newsletter or other blogs on our website.  Enjoy!

Melanie and Paul Eyres

4 themes to explore in one-on-ones

Good leaders know the importance of having regular one-on-ones with their team members. And it is no surprise that Gallup’s 2015 management report found that employees who have regular meetings with their managers are three times more likely to be engaged than employees who do not.

So…what is a one-on-one, why do them and what should we cover in it?

A one-on-one is simply a discussion with a leader and their team member, held at a frequency that suits both parties. Their purpose is to engage and inspire future excellent performance. Parties involved in effective one-on-ones say the best frequency is anywhere from once a week to once a month, and they last anywhere between 15-60 mins (depending on regularity).

One-on-ones provide an opportunity to

  • Provide feedback and comment on previous work
  • Fuel performance by seeing how people can use their strengths
  • Reinvigorate and motivate
  • Clarify / set expectations and performance standards
  • Review priorities / provide course correction
  • Share information (both ways)
  • Explore coaching / development goals
  • Show through actions that leaders value their people and their contribution
  • Help leaders find ways to help team members to make progress in meaningful work, and
  • Enhance relationships

One-on-ones should not be seen as additional work of a people leader – they are the work of a people leader!

Our experience in working with leaders shows us that 4 themes are central to effective one-on-ones:

a) reviewing current and completed work,

b) exploring future work commitments,

c) focusing on harnessing potential, and

d) exploring support opportunities (including feedback to the leader about how the leader can help the team member be their best at work)

Formal or informal?

Studies have shown that the best way to ensure frequency is to have check-ins be initiated by the team member—rather than by the team leader. Having a regular booking is an important feature – with either party entitled to one ‘reschedule voucher’ every 6 months.

A tone that sits somewhere between formal and informal often works well, with a lose agenda that touches on each of the 4 themes described above. Some leaders we have worked with suggest a general guide of 1/3 for team member update, 1/3 for manager update and 1/3 about future / follow-up is a useful rule of thumb.

Click here to see the original post and access
  • Do's and don'ts for One-on-ones
  • A link to get hold of a copy of the visual and our one-on-one planning template

How to close a meeting and 2 things to do after it

Does this sound familiar?

Day 1 : ‘Thanks guys, that was a good meeting. I feel like we got a lot of things on the table and made some progress. See you next month’.

Next time the team meets : ‘Haven’t we already had this conversation? I thought we agreed that last time. Why hasn’t anything happened?’

Many of us would love to have the first statement (unfortunately too many of our meetings don’t feel like they have been of value), so it seems like a crime when a meeting that was productive doesn’t lead to productive action.

As Paul Axtell writes in his HBR article ‘Two things to do after every meeting’, “there are a number of reasons why the productive conversations in a meeting seemingly go nowhere. Attendees are often immediately running to another meeting where their attention shifts to a new set of issues. Or people leave the meeting without clarity about what was agreed upon.”

So what can you do about it?

These seem like really obvious things to do, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean they happen!

Quite simply – as soon as you can,

  1. Send out concise meeting notes and document who has committed to doing what.
  2. And then follow on the commitments people have made.

Meeting notes

If you don’t capture the conversation and put into a form that can be easily retrieved later, the thinking and the agreements can be lost. As Axtell writes : “Here’s what works: Distribute concise, clear notes about the meeting. A single page will suffice for most meetings. This page should summarise the key points and the specific commitments for each topic, so that non-attendees have a sense of what happened and all have a record of who will take further action.”

Axtell suggests these should be written and distributed within 24 hours, if not sooner. This helps send the message that the commitments were important and helps demonstrate a sense of urgency.

Follow up on Commitments

  • Before a new topic is discussed, pause to agree on next steps. Identify the specific commitments and document clear deadlines.
  • Be mindful of other priorities and allow people to set reasonable deadlines.
  • Don’t use the automatic “by the next meeting” as the due date. It is important to think about what timing make the most sense.
  • Respectfully communicate that you expect each commitment will be fulfilled as agreed , and request that if something comes up, that they will get in touch to discuss a revised time frame.
  • Decide an appropriate person too check in at appropriate intervals to make sure that the commitments will be met or re-evaluated if something unexpected comes up.

People are always complaining about spending too much time in meetings. Working on designing and then running meetings better will help to lessen this problem, as will making sure all commitments from a meeting have been documented and followed up after the meeting. These latter steps will help make future meetings more productive – and maybe even redundant!

To access the original HBR article click here.
To access our blog post on this topic click here.

Tips to meet the '4 basic needs of your employees'

People are said to feel better and be most productive when 4 needs are met…renewal (physical); value (emotional), focus (mental) and purpose (spiritual).

4 basic needs

This isn’t surprising news, of course. Is there any doubt that when we feel more energized, appreciated, focused and purposeful, we perform better?

What was surprising about the results of a survey performed by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath (and shared in an HBR blog called ‘The Power of Meeting your Employees Needs’) is ‘how dramatically and positively getting these needs met is correlated with every variable that influences performance.’

A summary of their findings is captured in this graphic…

the effects of meeting needs

‘For example, when employees at a company perceive that any one of their four needs has been met, they report a 30% higher capacity to focus, a nearly 50% higher level of engagement, and a 63% greater likelihood to stay at the company. Even more interestingly, there is a straight dose effect associated with meeting an employee’s core needs – meaning that the cumulative positive impact rises with each additional need that gets satisfied.  For example, when all four needs are met, the effect on engagement rises from 50% for one need, to 125%. Engagement, in turn, has been positively correlated with profitability. In a meta-analysis of 263 research studies across 192 companies, employers with the most engaged employees were 22% more profitable than those with the least engaged employees.’

Simple Practical Ways to help meet these 4 needs…

So, what can you do to help meet your employee’s needs? Look back at your Discovery in Action – Leading People leadership model. What practical actions and behaviours directly help meet these four needs? And consider these simple idea prompts…

practical tips for 4 employee needs

To access the original blog click here

This blog also has a link to our DiA Tips and Hints for Wellbeing and Managing your Mood.

How to manage and motivate independent contractors

Most of us are not strangers to the idea of keeping employee numbers low. Many organisations have budget / employee number freezes – yet in many of them, the work that needs to be done just can’t happen with those people officially listed on the payroll.

An interesting Harvard Management ‘tip for the day’ published a few years ago offered some excellent ideas for those leaders and managers who have contractors in their team.


Here is a summary of some of the ideas – along with our visual / info graphic of useful reminders:

Know How to Manage and Motivate Independent Contractors

Managers want to do right by their people, but the expectations are different when you’re managing contractors. How do you motivate and engage people who aren’t full employees?

  • Understand what they want. Ask your contractors why they’re interested in working for your company. Knowing what they’re hoping for in the assignment will help you understand them.
  • Set expectations. Be clear about what you want from them, including deadlines for their deliverables.
  • Build the relationship. Talk to them about their family, their interests, and other projects they’re working on.
  • Make them feel part of the team. Invite them to important meetings, bring them into water-cooler conversations, and add them to the team email list.
  • Give feedback. There’s no need to do a formal review, but telling them what you think of their work will improve performance and your working relationship.

tips for managing contractors

Click here to see the original blog, with links to the full HBR post by Amy Gallo – 7 tips for managing freelancers and independent contractors.

Some recent assignments

  • Delivered customised leadership programs exploring feedback and coaching skills
  • Ran a series of focus groups to better understand results of the 'People Matter' staff survey
  • Designed and delivered a new customised level 2 coaching program for a client
  • Ran a number of customised team planning days
  • Facilitated a 'Celebration of Growth' workshop with alumni of a leadership program that spanned 2 years
Click here to access the Eyres & Associates website to find out what else we do!

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