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Managers failing on the basics of successful one to ones

HR must train and support managers to hold effective meetings with their reports, or risk employees feeling devalued and disengaged

A third (33%) of managers do not follow up on action plans with employees, meaning their one to ones are not as effective as they could be, according to research from software provider Appraisd.

When employees were asked what their line manager could do to improve one-to-one meetings the most popular answer (cited by 26%) was to follow up on issues and concerns more effectively.

A quarter (24%) also wanted their manager to prepare for their check-ins more effectively, suggesting a significant number of line managers are not treating one-to-one meetings as a priority.

The vast majority of employees said that they value the opportunity to check their progress with their managers, with the survey revealing that 84% believe regular meetings are important.

Structured check-ins between line managers and their employees are vital for several reasons, said Roly Walter, founder of Appraisd. "Regular check-ins between line managers and their employees are vital in so many different ways. They are the perfect opportunity to build a strong relationship, exchange information, and provide constructive, relevant and timely feedback,” he said.

"We know that check-ins work best when they follow a framework and action points are created so both managers and employees are clear on the next steps required. When this doesn’t happen employees quickly get disillusioned as they feel their concerns or their development are not priorities."

Walter added that taking just a short amount of time with employees to check on them could make a significant difference to productivity overall: “Employees want to know what their goals are, how well they are doing, and to have a manager who will do what they promise. Just taking five or 10 minutes to prepare for a check-in, and the same amount of time afterwards to note and share the action points, makes these regular meetings far more valuable, measurable and productive for all concerned.”

Rachel Suff, public policy adviser at the CIPD, highlighted HR's role in providing managers with the right training so they are able to better support staff. "Having regular catch-ups with team members and following up on action points are an important way of managers keeping track of performance and development, but also of them looking after people’s wellbeing. [But] CIPD research shows that not enough employers provide managers with the training, support and time for this to happen effectively," she said.

"With management style the second main cause of work-related stress, more managers also need training in how to go about their people management role in the right way, for example by being empathetic, open and not shying away from personal or health issues," she added.

"A one-to-one with an individual is the ideal time for someone to raise concerns or an underlying health issue that could be impacting performance. But for this to happen managers need to be trained to behave appropriately and handle sensitive conversations. Many employers would benefit from more serious investment in training their managers to have the right people management skills."

The Appraisd survey was conducted by OnePoll with 1,000 UK employees working in organisations with 50 employees or more in April 2019.

Further reading

How to run 360-degree feedback in appraisals

Cappelli: No one-size-fits-all approach to performance management

Employers failing to give staff a voice at work

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