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How to Conduct a One on One

Building Teams

Regularly meeting with your direct reports, when done the right way, is the key to their success and yours.

One on one meetings. Sure, it’s not the sexiest topic, but it is a serious one. How serious? Well, at Cardone Ventures, we take one on one meetings so seriously, that no one on our leadership team is eligible to receive incentive compensation unless they’re conducting one on one meetings twice a month with every single one of their direct reports. That’s right. Even if they’re hitting all of their targets. There are no exceptions. That’s how seriously we take one on one meetings. 

Now, I understand that some of you might think that this process in practice is a bit extreme, but I can assure you that it’s not, and I’ll tell you why. Without these twice monthly one on ones, you’ve drastically increased the potential for everything to fall apart. 

As a people manager, there is so much crucial cultural and operational information to be gleaned from these conversations, from important business metrics pertaining to their specific role, to their personal professional, and financial goals, their development plan, and so much more. 

Isn’t it worth your time to develop a bond and support their growth if it means that you’re creating a high-performing team in the process? You don’t just want anyone doing this job, right? You want your employees to be the best, because ultimately their performance in their respective roles is what creates people’s perception of your brand. 

Your goal should be to build a team that is unstoppable, and conducting one one ones, believe it or not, is one key way of achieving positive brand recognition. But what is more important than simply conducting these meetings is conducting them in the right way. 

Don’t be afraid of formality — document these meetings

No matter what size your business currently is, you should be conducting these meetings (as you are other aspects of the business) with your vision statement in mind. Where do you intend to be ten years from now? Conduct and document your one on one meetings with that business in mind. 

Create a one on one meeting template. Include the employee’s name, their department, their manager’s name, and the date. Only have two departments? Doesn’t matter. Ultimately, your HR department will be organizing and storing this information for everyone’s accountability. Don’t skip this step. 

Essential elements to include in your one on one template

Aside from their name, department, the manager’s name, and the date, there are some essential areas you should cover in your one on one. Here are some that we explore at Cardone Ventures. 

  • Metrics. How are they performing relative to already established expectations? If they’re falling short, what actions are they taking to rectify that? If they aren’t, why aren’t they? What needs to be addressed?
  • Updates and ideas. This section should be more informal, but request that they prioritize these ideas and make certain that these ideas about organizational improvement actually pertain to their department — otherwise, you’re just throwing work into someone else’s lap!
  • Personal, professional, and financial goal achievement. Where are they on these? Are they making any progress? If they aren’t, make note of that. It speaks volumes!
  • Development plan. This should include four to six areas where they can improve their professional performance over the course of the year. (Public speaking, digital marketing training, etc.)
  • Action plan. This section is a takeaway for them to work on before your next meeting. They need to answer the question, “What are the steps and actions I will take after this meeting?” These are all the things that the team member documents and commits to so that when you next meet, they can then answer the question, “What actions have you taken since our last one on one?”

Your direct reports play a crucial role in this process

Your direct team members are responsible for updating this document and sending it to you before your next meeting. Have them send it to you the day before your meeting so that you can review and process the information they shared and you can have a more productive conversation. You both deserve the opportunity to prepare for this. No surprises. 

This is why we don’t do these weekly at Cardone Ventures. It gives everyone a chance to take feedback, work to create a new result, and then report back on progress made. 

Though I have been able to have a successful 17-minute one one one meeting, I recommend 30 minutes as a standard. Be very intentional about your time. It can go quickly. And these folks have chosen your organization to grow their careers. Be focused and be constructive in your feedback. Hold them accountable to their word. And make tough decisions if they aren’t. 

Say you’re working with an employee who is missing one of their metrics. This template allows you to document those conversations so that if a termination does need to occur, you have this series of events in black and white. This protects the organization. And it’s not all for negative circumstances. Documentation is equally important for positive business and performance outcomes. In fact, it reinforces the kind of culture that you want to create. 

This process works! Don’t be afraid to use it.

It’s taken me years to perfect this process, and I’m sure I’ll continue to make improvements to it as Cardone Ventures grows. It helps you build great teams and a more successful business because it gets very specific about individual performance and accountability, which not only fosters great results, but it also protects the integrity of your organization in the long run. 

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