Communication. Do we have too much? Not enough? Exactly what IS being communicated? This has been a question we have all been asking for a couple of years. We have certainly focused a lot on quantity recently and we have created a communication cadence on the team that seems to be working well. But there is still an issue with communication, no? Maybe it’s not the quantity, but the quality.
I love our daily huddles and the opportunity to see so many faces on a regular basis. But it really is only a snip-it of what is happening in your world. The real meat of communication should be happening in your 1:1’s. Done well, effective 1:1’s are an opportunity to give and receive feedback. It is a platform in which to provide bi-directional coaching. 1:1’s are how we should be building relationships and developing trust and respect. It is how we get and receive information. If you don’t feel connected to the organization or ‘in the know’ then I bet you need to look at your 1:1’s. Oh, and don’t skip, miss or cancel these meetings if you can help it.
Since 1:1’s are so important, we thought we would try a new format. Therefore, we are rolling out a new template for 1:1’s to help improve the effectiveness and consistency of them.
Below are the 1:1 topics and a description of what we anticipate gaining from each topic covered.
We will have everyone do a comprehensive DiSC assessment and then provide you each with Comparison Reports on how you work with others in your team and in the organization. As you start your 1:1, remind each other of your DiSC profile so that you can modify your style if necessary so that information is well communicated AND received.
For example, I am very outgoing and collaborative while Matt is very private and likes to work independently. I know that I need to give him space for ‘think time’ rather than force him to be collaborative with me. If we are working in a group, I need to temper my desire to make it fun and social and make sure we make progress on our goals so he doesn’t lose interest. Knowing this about each other allows us to successfully work together. And if WE can do it, then anyone can.
How do you feel Personally/Professionally? (led by Consultant)
How are you doing/feeling? What is happening in your world? How is your family doing? Is there anything causing you stress that we need to know about or help with? Is there anything at work that is frustrating you right now? Don’t wait until the quarterly surveys to provide feedback on the feel of the team. Be transparent! Say what’s on your mind! Of course, you should be tactful and professional. This is your opportunity to let your manager and the rest of the organization know what you need and what we can do to help you.
Coaching: Areas for Improvement (Led by Manager)
All of you are product experts – or well on your way to becoming a product expert. But as soft skills go, you can never know enough, be good enough, or be enough of an expert. Taking a step back and seeing yourself as others see you is something we don’t do often enough. We are constantly seeking feedback from our clients and from each other. It would be a shame not to use that information to improve ourselves and how we are perceived by others. This is the type of coaching you should be receiving from your manager. It is not meant to just point out what you did wrong (since we all do things wrong every day) but how to improve for the future. Sometimes it is just a small course correction needed in your communication style. Sometimes it is encouragement to have the confidence to have a difficult conversation with a client or another team member. Your manager is there to support you and help you become the best that you can be. Don’t pass up the opportunity to seek that type of feedback and coaching. And if you are not getting it, challenge your manager for it! And provide THEM with feedback on how they are delivering this type of coaching to you. It is meant to be confidence building, not demeaning.
Quarterly Priority Progress (led by Consultant)
Review the progress of your quarterly priorities and discuss any successes or challenges you have had or are having. Are you on track for achieving your priority by the next meeting? Do you need any assistance from your manager or someone else on the team?
Personal/Professional Development/Aspirations (led by Consultant)
What or who do you want to be when you grow up? I ask myself that all the time. My world is constantly changing and, therefore, I must constantly change to keep up with it. You all know how quickly our organization is changing. If you see a need or an opportunity for yourself or our company, make sure you are talking about it! Don’t assume your manager knows about it.
Start having conversations about your long-term goals. This is the perfect time to bring up any skills you want to improve on, new things you want to learn about, or a new role you aspire to be in. If you make your career and skills growth part of your 1:1 meetings, they are much more likely to become a reality.
Mosaic Updates (Led by Manager)
During this time, Managers will be communicating the necessary information to you from leadership meetings or clients/projects. We will be compiling and rolling out consistent, weekly communication to all managers so that everyone is hearing the same message. It will include recruiting needs we have, organizational changes, Always & Nevers, wins and successes, upcoming events, etc. During this conversation, you should be actively listening and receptive to the information you are being provided. Ask clarifying questions until you have a full understanding of what is happening. Do not walk away from the section scratching your head asking yourself ‘now, what did they mean by that?’ Hold yourself accountable to fully comprehend what is being communicated to you.
Project Review (Led by Consultant)
Surprises from projects are rarely good. Take this time for a detailed review of your projects in Clarizen. What could surprise us or the client regarding scope change, schedule change, risks, or expectations. You should go through each project and discuss the following:
- Who is the client?
- What is the desired outcome of the project?
- Are we on track to meet the client’s expectations?
- Are there any (potential) obstacles that would prevent the desired outcome?
- Do you have any stucks?
- What progress has been made thus far?
- What are the upcoming tasks and deadlines?
- Are there any scope changes that need to be addressed?
- Are we in budget, are we on time?
- Is our LER as expected?
- Are there new opportunities that I can ‘warm transfer’ to Sales?
- When can we schedule the Service to Sales call?
First, we need to be able to support you more effectively. Second, we need more visibility into our projects to minimize service defects. Nothing catches me off guard more than a call from a client who is upset and I know nothing about the issue, Denise knows nothing about the issue and the manager knows nothing about the issue. We should not be surprised by these calls. There will always be exceptions but it should not be the norm.
Project reviews need to be happening weekly. We need to stay ahead of the project and be proactive in any challenges/opportunities we see coming. Also, your manager is here to support you. How can they help overcome or avoid obstacles by escalating issues with the client or the Mosaic team? Our clients are looking to us to see problems before they arise and provide a solution.
Schedule/Resource Load Review/Projects on the Horizon (Led by Manager)
Our goal is to make sure Mosaicains have a healthy work/life balance. Managers should be going over your schedule to ensure that is happening. Resourcing is incredibly challenging because the landscape changes daily. New requests are coming in fast and furious. Unexpected requests come in from existing clients that were not anticipated. It is hard to match resources with projects while still maintaining the right amount of billable work. Some people want more hours, some people want less. Clients want it all!
Now that we have Clarizen, we have more visibility into your current and projected workload. Be sure to review this in detail with your manager so that you are comfortable with it. It is not an exact science, however. There is some ‘art’ that is applied when trying to resource projects. But you should have a good idea of what is coming down the pipe. For a Professional Services organization, it is amazing that we now can see 3 and 4 months down the road. Thank you to Dave and Shannon for building such a healthy pipeline. And thank you to Denise and Andy for getting Clarizen to a point that we have that visibility!
Below is a example of how a 1:1 should be structured in Align and completed with information:
Consistent 1:1’s are a great tool for our team to feeling connected and informed. However, I do not feel like they have been as effective and consistent as possible, and I am hoping this template pushes change in our organization and how we run these meetings. Effective 1:1’s are the best way to seek feedback (as well as give it). Since these meetings are so important, please DO NOT miss or cancel them if at all possible!!! If you have a client or travel conflict, be sure to reschedule it within the same week.
Remember, if you are not getting what you want out your 1:1, it is half your responsibility to change it. Come prepared with the items you want to talk about. Own your experience! I am looking forward to hearing the feedback on our new 1:1 template!
Your biggest cheerleader,