What does a working manager's day look like? We recently posed that question to a large group of health care professionals whose company has experienced explosive growth the past few years. Managers in the organization are expected to work alongside their direct reports as well as to guide their particular function of the business. Many of the managers have several direct reports and experience difficulty carving out time to spend with them to provide feedback and guidance.
We discussed how some managers are able to fit brief one-on-one meetings into their hectic schedules. The group agreed that it is possible, but takes great discipline. The most important (and challenging) aspect of the practice is to make the appointed time "sacred." When managers are bombarded by physicians, patients and regulatory demands every day, it is easy to just tell the employee, "We will meet later." But sometimes, that meeting never happens.
Suggestions for making certain that one-on-one meetings take priority include:
- Manage your time by setting up meetings back-to-back so that each has a "hard stop"
- Send a list of three or four standard questions the employee needs to be prepared to discuss
- Make sure to use the 80/20 rule during the meeting. Managers don't learn anything when they do all the talking. Allow the employee to relate what is going well and what could be improved. Let them speak.
- Keep in mind that one of the highest priorities of a manager is to develop his or her people. Spending time with each person is not only a worthwhile endeavor, it is our job!