In Gallup's extensive employee engagement study, they found that not having clear goals and expectations is one of the top five reasons why employees are disengaged

So ironic because one of the most consistent ways to inspire and motivate people is to do just that -- clarify goals and expectations, and keep people abreast of those goals over time.

Things change. And when they do, great leaders don't leave people in the dark. So, my question to you is: do your people know what is really going on, and what expected of them at work?

Break The Cycle With One-on-One Conversations

The best solution to make consistent clear goals and expectations an operational reality is through one-on-one conversations.

If the prospect of more communication makes leaders cringe, true leadership may not be your cup-of-tea. Leaders thrive when they strengthen relationships with their people by spending more time with them.

If you're still not sold, there are two business reasons for doing this (the upside):

  • New business opportunities. By learning more about your employees and their work, you'll tap into interests and strengths you never knew about, which they can contribute for your business and customers.
  • Higher retention. Nothing influences motivation more than the relationship a supervisor or manager has with their workers. Remember, "people leave managers, not companies."

The 5 Steps To Having Remarkable One-On-One Meetings

First off, I know what you're thinking: how am I going to find the time for this, that's what email, communication apps like Slack, and texting is for!

I hear you. The good news is that we're not talking about the kind of meetings that you see in conference rooms or video conferencing that need to be scheduled in one hour blocks two weeks in advance.

One-on-meetings become time savers when used on a recurring basis, but you need to know how to structure them so that it works to your advantage. Here's how:

1. The leader schedules the meeting, and keeps it short.

One-on-ones don't have to be any longer than 15-20 minutes. The shorter the better.

It's the leader that sets the meeting date and time. That shows you have an interest in your people and it tests your follow-through and commitment.

2. The employee provides the agenda.

This puts the focus on the employee, and pushes the responsibility on them to tell you, the leader, what they need to address, and what they want to talk about. So leaders, let them drive the meeting by giving an agenda.

3. Meet at least once every two weeks.

If possible, depending on the level of responsibility for the employee, meet weekly. Use your best judgment.

4. The focus should be on what the employee wants to talk about.

Leaders should always ask if there's anything else that needs to be addressed, and if they have everything they need.

Then you can communicate your part -- new expectations given to you that needs to be handed down: good news, bad news, new direction, praises, affirmations. 

5. Stay committed to the bigger picture.

Both leaders and employees need to demonstrate equal commitment to the process and show that they value these meetings for better collaboration and engagement. Leaders, especially, need to show its importance by treating it as a priority. And it goes without saying, if a meeting has to be postponed, reschedule promptly.