They are increasingly needed more and more. They often feel high risk and can be full of emotion.
But the cost of not having them is greater in the long run for the individual, the rest of the team and also the manager.
One of several techniques I get people to practice at my Hands On Leadership course is called R.A.I.S.E.
Here is a brief outline of how to use this technique:
Advantage: outline one to three advantages for the person you are addressing
In their shoes: acknowledge potential objections they would have
Success: share evidence of previous success (of people taking this on) that will resonate with the person you are talking to
End: restate your recommendation.
Now imagine you are the White House Communications Director who has the task of recommending a new hair style for the President.
Use the RAISE technique to see how you might formulate a way through an "impossible" and career threatening conversation. If you are brave enough to have a go, I'd love you to share your scenario with me!
Making the most of your one to one
Of all management practices, perhaps the one most shrouded in secrecy is what happens in supervision meetings.
At times it feels like the confidentiality of the confessional. Individuals pass on from manager to manager the sacred rights until they move organisations and have to learn again what happens in a new place.
It is often fascinating listening to clients describe this vital process. Often they have given little conscious thought to it.
"They just happen."
"It is two hours of reporting."
"If we are too busy we cancel."
For others the process can be dominated by a list of set questions driven by an HR department that somehow sucks the life out of what is a well-intentioned opportunity to provide support and development.
Revisit the purpose
Bear in mind this purpose can change over time.
It can have a different emphasis for each individual.
But by identifying a purpose for the meeting will bring meaning to your meeting. It means they won't get cancelled "just because someone is busy" as they will have a value. The value will also be for both parties involved.
Achievements or challenges?
So many people think they have to fill up the time with a detailed description of what they have done since the last meeting. They have a need to seek validation, or create a detailed context to explain their current performance and challenges.
In most cases this is a waste of both peoples' time and the organisation has lost an opportunity.
Instead, consider initiating a short results driven report two days prior to the supervision meeting. This enables you to give a brief comment on the positive and examine areas for concern.
This should free up the meeting to address two crucial things:
1. What are your current challenges and how are you tackling them?
2. What are your future opportunities and what do you need to do to prepare for them?
With these two "rich" questions you can provide advice, teach or coach depending upon which style works for you.
You can add in other challenges or opportunities that are driven by you or the organisation's agenda. This can create a space to have crucial conversations that lead to meaningful performance enhancing actions.
"Now. Mr. President about your hair...."