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The Importance Of Listening in One-on-ones

Internal Communication
One-on-one
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

7 August, 2018

Reynalin Reyes discusses the importance of listening to people and providing them with a safe space to vent and talk through their problems during one-on-ones.

Problem

When I first started out as a manager, because I was so busy, I didn't really want to have one-on-ones with my direct reports. I wasn't sure about the right things to talk about so would just ask my team members how they were doing and what was going on. As a result, I wasn't deriving many benefits from the meetings.

Actions taken

There are several different approaches you can use when having one-on-ones. Each person is different, so each requires a different structure for their one-on-ones. Some people may want to vent, and this provides them with a safe space to do this. Other people may want you to solve their problem - if they do, you can then work with them to help them solve it. For example, I had an employee who everyone really liked and respected. He was the hero of the team, helping others to get work done. However, because he was always helping others, he had no time to focus on his own work. He explained that everyone was asking him questions, so he was helping them rather than working on his own project. By taking the time to talk and listen to him, I realized this was a problem, and explained that people had become too dependent on him. I put him on a plan and asked two other people to help him to finish his project. Between the three people, they got the project done in a month.

Lessons learned

Most people already know the answer to their issues, so your role as a manager is to lead them in the direction they need to go. Focus on listening, as people just want to be heard. You may not even need to solve a problem, but as long as people feel as though they had someone to talk to who listened, this helps their day.


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