Every leader should have a Quarterly Conversation with each direct report every 90 days. It’s just checking in. It’s informal, but it needs to be on your calendar or it is not likely to happen. Simply spend some time chatting, preferably away from the office, perhaps over coffee or lunch.
To prepare, complete a People Analyzer on the person. Think about how they have been doing with Core Values and GWCing the job (Getting it, Wanting it, having the Capacity to do it well). Think about their performance measurables.
When you start doing these, let them know that this is not a performance review and there is nothing terribly wrong – you just want to give them a chance outside of the day-to-day work environment to talk to you. You just want to check in and find out how things are going.
Quarterly Conversation Agenda
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- Next Steps
- What’s working? Ask about what’s going well. What are the things they are happy about or proud of?
- What’s not working? What could be better? What could be frustrating them or what could be making their job more difficult? What would they change if they could? How could we improve? You are looking for issues.
- Feedback. How are you doing as a manager? Is there anything you can do to help them?
- Next steps? What are the to-dos that came from this meeting? Did you make any promises that need follow-up? Is there anything they will work on?
During the meeting, be aware of how much talking you are doing. You should only be doing 20% of the talking – spending most of your time listening.
You should only be doing 20% of the talking. Focus on listening.
When you are looking for issues, there are three types that may arise. Be sure to categorize them because not all issues are a priority and most issues shouldn’t be yours to solve:
3 Types of Issues:
- Issues they must solve: Try not to let the employee dump their problems on you to solve. Talk through them and ask what solutions they would recommend or what they can do about the issue.
- Issues you must solve: There are some issues that the employee simply does not have the resources or authority to solve. As the manager, it is your job to help with these types of issues if you determine they are a priority.
- Issues that can’t be solved: If an issue can’t be solved then the employee must make their peace and live with it. Talk this through. Be realistic. There may be an issue that aggravates the person but it isn’t going to change and they may have to make the decision to leave if they can’t deal with it. It’s ok…
Learn more with these EOS Resources:
- Rene Boer’s (How to Be a Great Boss book) Quarterly Conversation overview videos: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3
- Gino’s simple advice in his blog post
- Details: As a leader/manager, if you want to be great, you must be aware of everything your direct reports believe are issues (real or not). Here’s how in this EOS blog post.