When you started your business you probably through of the freedom you will have because your staff will handle many of the problems, you wanted that control over your life to do the things you want to do in your business – your way. Some of you allow your staff to run free-letting the inmates run the asylum (hopefully not that extreme). Some of you are micromanagers-overseeing everything your staff does. Many of you have a nice balance of leading your team while giving them the freedom to control themselves and develop within your organization. Being the owner, you have all the power to determine the amount of latitude you give your employees.
This is what employee mentoring is all about. It starts with accepting the real responsibility that lies in having authority and influence over someone else’s paycheck, not to mention the rest of their day. This is one of the most essential components in I speak with my clients. You must have regularly scheduled meetings with each person who reports to you.
How is your business ever going to reach that beautiful vision, embody those deeply-held values, and reach those financial goals, if the people you need to get there are left behind in the process?
The first thing to do is book monthly meetings with each member of your staff. You know, those “one-on-one” meetings. Call them whatever works for you. Just meet with every member of your staff (or direct reports if your company is very large) on a regular monthly basis to talk.
- To gather information.
- To check in.
- To tune into what is really going on within your business.
These meeting are not the time to be critical on their performance, but to develop your staff, create goals with them, provide them the confidence to do better at their job and giving them the chance to make a mistake and learn.
Here is some example of questions you can ask your staff during these meetings. Find questions that are appropriate for you and your business.
You should do very little of the talking and 90% of the listening during these meetings.
- “We talk a lot around here about our company values – which one of them is most important to you? Why is that?” “Was there something that happened before you started working here that caused you to feel that way?”
- “I’d love to hear an example of where you feel like we didn’t live up to our standards, or anything else you see along those lines. Was there something we did that you felt let down by?” “How do you think we should handle it differently next time?”
- “Do you feel like you’re in the ‘center’ of your job? Meaning, are you doing something that really suits you? And do you feel like you have the right amount of responsibility and authority to do it well?”
- “What would you say is the ‘theme’ that runs through your work here? For example, do you tend to get lost in the details on projects, or struggle to feel relaxed in talking with our customers? What are you working on as a professional goal for yourself in being here?”
- “Does working here make you ‘better’ at your life outside of here? Meaning, do you go home feeling good about yourself and your contribution? What do you think is in the way of you feeling more that way here?”
- “When you think about where you want to be a year from now, or three, how does working here serve that personal dream? What is it giving you, or could it give you, that serves you and the life you want?”
As you can see, these questions are ‘soft’ – they’re not about today’s tasks or next week’s deadline.
They’re questions that invite your people into the big picture, not only to ‘do better’ at work, but to ‘be better’ in their life, and most importantly, experience that they matter to you as a person – that their individual hopes, dreams and fears are all part of the magic that is your brand. That’s the real purpose of the meeting, so they can bring that much more of themselves into work today than they did yesterday, and most importantly to feel they have your support in doing it.
Conducting these kinds of monthly meeting will help you retain the most talented people in your business as well as attract highly qualified people that will want to work for you. Without great staff, your business could be doomed, and you don’t know it yet. Hire great people. Develop them. Listen to them and what they want from you to be successful in your business.
It’s that simple. If you want to know what really motivates your staff – just ask them.