Good leaders bring their coaching skills to enrich 1-2-1 conversations with members of their team. This includes active listening, asking open questions and empowering team members to come up with their own solutions.
Here are some tips that can help with having great conversations.
1. Turn up
This sounds simple but it can be hard to prioritise your 1-2-1s in a world of back-to-back meetings and urgent issues requiring immediate attention. It's ok to reschedule once in a while but doing it regularly sends a message to your team members that you don't value you time with them. Pick times of the day or week that are usually less chaotic and do have a conversation to explain if you must cancel.
2. Be 100% present
Turn off you phone and email. Make sure you choose a quiet place to allow you to focus 100%.
3. Set expectations
Explain that you are taking a coaching stance. This means you'll be asking questions to help them clarify their thinking in order to come up with their own solutions. If they want advice, then they should ask for it explicitly. It could be quite frustrating if they are expecting you to advice them or provide answers, and instead you continue to ask questions.
4. Listen to understand
Listen to them. Listen to understand, to what’s being said, and also what’s not being said. Pay attention to their body language. Read this article for more details on listening skills.
5. Ask open questions
Ask open question to help them think through the issues at hand. Hold you silence when there’s an awkward pause or when you feel you should say something. Count in your head: one Mississippi, two Mississippi....
Hold your silence longer than you think you need to hold it. Read this article for more details on this topic.
The core belief in coaching is that the mind with the problem also has the solution to that problem.
Allow your team members to come up with their own solutions.
7. Actions and Accountability
Help them come up their own actions. Ask the following (or similar) questions:
What actions do you want to take to achieve your intended outcome?
What’s the one thing you can to today to move closer to the solution?
Who can help you?
How are you going to hold yourself to account? (Note: It's not how will I will hold you to account, but how you’ll hold yourself to account)