If you want to develop leaders, teach them to make an abiding commitment to doing what the best leaders (at all levels) do best: the fundamentals. That means consistently engaging every direct report in an ongoing, high-structure, high-substance, one-on-one dialogue.
- Set aside an hour a day to manage each person. Concentrate on three or four people a day. Follow a regular schedule and customized agenda for each.
- Always start with top priorities, open questions, and any work in progress. Prepare in advance.
- Consider holding meetings standing up to keep them quick and focused.
- Don’t let anybody go more than two weeks without a meeting.
- Don’t do all the talking.
- If you manage people working other shifts, stay late or come in early. Conduct remote one-on-ones via telephone with the same discipline as your in-person ones.
- Rich in immediately relevant content, specific to the person and the situation, with a clear execution focus.
- Always spell out expectations.
- Regularly remind everybody of broad performance standards.
- Turn best practices into standard operating procedures; teach them to all.
- Use plans and step-by-step checklists.
- Focus on concrete actions within the individual employee’s control.
- Monitor, measure, and document individual performance in writing.
- Follow up and provide regular, candid, coaching-style feedback.
- Follow through with real consequences and rewards based on performance in relation to expectations.
- Ask questions such as: “What do you need from me?” “What is your plan? What steps will you follow?” “How long will this step take? And the next?”
- Listen carefully.