How to Make Your One-on-One Meetings More Effective

Put those dreaded one-on-one meetings in the past. Follow these simple steps for effective and pleasant exchanges between management and staff.

Management-staff one-on-one meetings should be a regular component of any organization’s performance management system. They allow for maintaining professional relationships and providing constructive ‘Plus/Delta’ feedback.

‘Pluses’ are an employee’s specific tasks, accomplishments or behaviors that are working and adding value that should be continued or even expanded. ‘Deltas’ are not negatives but specific changes in activity or methods that will improve results. Usually the change is doing less of something that isn’t working or stopping it completely, or doing more of something that would work better.

• RELATED: Learn to be a power listener.

The do’s
These meeting should be short, concise, frequent and constructive and fall into three categories:

One-on-One Type No. 1: Comprehensive. These meetings should focus on reviewing performance over the last week or month.

One-on-One Type No. 2: Project Specific. These meetings should focus on dealing with the ‘Pluses’ and ‘Deltas’ of a specific project or process.

One-on-One Type No. 3: Issue Specific. These meetings should focus on a specific problem that needs to be resolved immediately.

Management-staff one-on-one meetings should have a detailed agenda distributed prior to the meeting and be followed up with a concise summary of points discussed, actions items and next steps. This strategy should be organization-wide at all levels and managers should be evaluated for the quality of the meetings they run with their subordinates. 

• RELATED: Read more by Phil Stella.

And the don’ts
In order for these one-on-ones to reach maximum success, managers should avoid the following five ineffective behaviors.

Ineffective Behavior No. 1: Talking way too much and not listening enough to employees.

Ineffective Behavior No. 2: Telling too much and not asking enough questions or listening to responses.

Ineffective Behavior No. 3: Assuming they know more about the problem than the employee closest too it. So, they come up with the solution because they’re the boss.

Ineffective Behavior No. 4: Not having meetings often enough so they resort to rambling one-way data-dumps on a long list of topics instead of a focused conversation on a specific time period, project or problem.

Ineffective Behavior No. 5: Criticizing ideas from staff during initial brainstorming conversations rather than generating lots of ideas in a non-judgmental process.

The negative effects of such lame one-on-ones include failing to accomplish the initial objectives, wasting time and demotivating employees.

Meet Joe and Maria
Here is an example of when Joe the supervisor met with Maria the production analyst about problems with a new manufacturing process. He should have led a dynamic and creative dialogue to explore possible causes, analyzed each different solution and selected the best one. But instead, he shared his thoughts first, barely listened to Maria’s comments, told her how to solve the problem and then blamed her when it didn’t work. Maria got angry, quit and took a different job where her new boss wasn’t such an idiot. Score: Joe - zero, Maria - won.
So, if you manage people, embrace the value of effective one-on-one conversations with each person. Strive for effective, efficient and engaging dialogues and avoid being anything like Joe.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication (www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network Expert, Content Committee member and has been a frequent speaker at COSE events. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

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    Next up: How to respond to an EEOC or OCRC Charge of Discrimination
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  • How to respond to an EEOC or OCRC Charge of Discrimination

    So your company has received a charge of discrimination from the EEOC or OCRC. Now what do you do?

    So your company has received a charge of discrimination from the EEOC or OCRC. Now what do you do?

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    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) enforce federal (EEOC) and Ohio’s (OCRC) anti-discrimination laws.  Employees may file a charge with the EEOC/OCRC against their employer alleging sexual harassment or discrimination based on gender/sex (including pregnancy), race, color, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry or military status. 

    If you receive a charge, take the following steps*:

    1. Call your employment attorney.  (If you only have general business counsel, ask them to refer you to an employment attorney.)  EEOC/OCRC charges may be used as the first step before litigation in the courts.  Any information provided to the EEOC or OCRC may become public record, or at the very least available to the claimant, and that information may be used in a lawsuit against the company.
    2. Inform others only on a “need to know” basis.  Human resources and the employee’s immediate supervisor should be informed.  Supervisors should be reminded to not retaliate against the employee (if still employed) in any way, or to discuss the charge with the employee.
    3. Immediately preserve all documentation.  This includes personnel files, disciplinary documents, internal investigations (if any were done), as well as emails, voice mails, text messages, and other electronically stored information.  Have your IT person disable any auto-delete functions until documents can be secured. 
    4. Decide if you want to respond to the charge, or if you want to engage in mediation.
    5. Cooperate with the investigation.  This will include providing requested documents and may also involve an on-site visit by the investigator.  The investigator has the right to speak to employees.
    6. Wait.  You may not hear anything for weeks or months.  You may be asked for more information, or you may just receive a determination in the mail.
    7. Even if the agency reaches a no probable cause finding, or if the charge is settled in mediation,determine if any changes need to be made to avoid future charges of discrimination. 

    “Best Practices” and Proactive Measures

    The best way to avoid charges of discrimination is to be proactive.  Take the following steps.

    1. Have an employee handbook in place, which includes an internal method for reporting complaints of harassment and discrimination.
    2. Enforce your policies consistently and equally. 
    3.  
    4. Document employee infractions – use written documentation for warnings, suspensions and terminations.
    5. Train your supervisors on harassment, discrimination, and enforcement of your policies.
    6. Train your employees on the handbook, to ensure they understand their obligations and know everyone will be treated the same.

    * This is a general overview of the process and recommended steps. Actual procedures may differ based on specific nature of the charges. The information in this article is not, nor is it intended to be, specific legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

    About Jennifer:

    Jennifer A. Corso has over 20 years experience representing management in labor and employment law.  She works with employers on legal compliance and defense of employment claims and lawsuits. She is certified by the Ohio State Bar Association as a Specialist in Labor and Employment Law, and has written several articles and spoken at numerous seminars and to community business groups on employment law topics.

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    Next up: How to Structure Your Internship Program for Maximum Impact
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  • How to Structure Your Internship Program for Maximum Impact

    Interested in starting an internship program, but unclear on the best way in which it should be structured? Look no further than Westfield Group, which has set up its internship program in such a way that helps both its interns and the company itself.

    In the lead up to the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit on Feb. 27, Mind Your Business will be running a series of articles previewing some of the sessions that attendees will have the opportunity to sit in on. Today’s preview focuses on the legal aspects of internships. Click here to view the other preview articles for this year’s Internship Summit.

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    The old stereotype of interns doing little more than making copies or performing other administrative work certainly is not the case at Westfield Group in Westfield Center. Rather, interns who are brought on at the company can be expected to perform the same types of duties as other employees.

    Westfield’s Christopher Paterakis, who will be speaking during the “Workforce Preparedness: How Employers Are Getting Interns and New Grads More Career Ready” session during the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit, explains that the intern positions at the organization reflect actual positions at the company as well as work on the organization’s projects or needs at the time.

    The company views these internships as learning opportunities, providing valuable experience as it relates to working in teams and participating in shared ownership for positive outcomes. The goal is that these interns walk away from their experience with a unique insider insight and perspective that they won’t get elsewhere. And, of course, there is a real benefit to Westfield, too, as the company has the chance to have some exceptional work done for it and also gets a good look at these individuals for possible future employment.

    Register today for the Third Annual Cleveland Internship Summit, taking place on Feb. 27, to learn more about internship program best practices, such as what is happening at Westfield Group. And for a deeper dive into how to create and manage your company's internship program, check out the Greater Cleveland Partnership's Internship Central page.

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  • Important Update from Ohio BWC!

    The deadline for your company’s payroll true-up reports was originally Aug. 15. However, because this is a new process, the Ohio BWC has extended a grace period until Sept. 29 to ensure all employers are able to complete this requirement.

    The deadline for your company’s payroll true-up reports was originally Aug. 15. However, because this is a new process, the Ohio BWC has extended a grace period until Sept. 29 to ensure all employers are able to complete this requirement.

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    With the transition to prospective billing, Ohio BWC now requires employers to reconcile their actual payroll for the prior policy year and reconcile any differences in premium paid. The payroll true-up allows Ohio BWC to calculate your premium accurately. Even if your payroll for the year matches the estimate, Ohio BWC provided, or you had zero payroll, you must complete a true-up report.

    The quickest and easiest way to true-up is online with a BWC e-account. If you do not have a BWC e-account, you can create one at www.bwc.ohio.gov/. Online true-up and payment will also save you money. Eligible employers will qualify for a 1-percent premium rebate, up to a $2,000 maximum rebate. While you can complete the true-up through the BWC call center, wait times may be extremely high. Therefore, Ohio BWC suggests you file your payroll true-up with a BWC e-account.

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    Next up: Tips for Your Business: Increase Productivity by Reducing Stress
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  • Tips for Your Business: Increase Productivity by Reducing Stress

    Stress in the workforce has become one of the biggest problems in business today. It has been called a global epidemic, with numerous studies encouraging businesses to be more proactive in helping their employees manage stress. “Every day, people deal with stress at work or in their personal lives — or probably both,” says Cindy Ballog, manager of Health Promotion, Wellness and Disease Management for Medical Mutual. “That’s why it’s important for organizations to understand the effect it can have on the health of their employees, and what that means for the future of their business.”

    Stress in the workforce has become one of the biggest problems in business today. It has been called a global epidemic, with numerous studies encouraging businesses to be more proactive in helping their employees manage stress. 

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    “Every day, people deal with stress at work or in their personal lives — or probably both,” says Cindy Ballog, manager of Health Promotion, Wellness and Disease Management for Medical Mutual. “That’s why it’s important for organizations to understand the effect it can have on the health of their employees, and what that means for the future of their business.”


    With the high demand and fast pace of today’s work environment, employees at practically every level of an organization are dealing with some level of stress. By providing stress management resources, organizations can help employees be healthier and control healthcare costs. “Healthy employees are often happier and more productive employees,” says Ballog. “In many cases, turnover and absenteeism can also go down.”


    Stress is hard on the body. There are the obvious and immediate effects, such as headaches, upset stomach and loss of sleep. But there are more long-term consequences. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, which makes it tougher to fight off illness, causing people to get sick more often. It’s also linked to high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, heart attacks, anxiety and depression. These conditions and others can worsen as a result of continuous stress. 


    According to Ballog, diet and exercise go a long way. “When your body feels good, your mind often does, too,” she explains. “People often adopt poor eating and lifestyle habits as a form of stress relief, but those habits just make the symptoms worse.” Exercise is another important factor. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can have a significant impact on stress. Even at work, when feasible, Ballog says employees should be encouraged to do things like go for a walk at lunch or use the stairs instead of the elevator. 


    Of course, each employee is different when it comes to stress, with different sources and different effects on their health. Some employers offer classes on relaxation techniques and managing time more effectively. Employees should also feel comfortable discussing challenges and asking for help, which can help reduce stress for those employees and ensure projects are completed on time. 


    “It can be difficult to eliminate all the stress factors in life, but everyone can find ways to understand their stressors and respond to them a little better,” says Ballog. “Helping your employees along in the process could help your business be healthier—both physically and financially.”

    This article originally appeared in the July 20, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.


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    Next up: Internship Help for Your Business
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  • Internship Help for Your Business

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central program is collaborating with Tri-C to offer GCP members the opportunity to participate as an internship host employer for Tri-C’s Summer Internship Program. There are 50 internships available and employers can host more than one intern. The program is five to 10 weeks (maximum of 100 hours to be worked) from May 30 to August 11, 2017.

    Internship Help for Your Business

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Internship Central program is collaborating with Tri-C to offer GCP members the opportunity to participate as an internship host employer for Tri-C’s Summer Internship Program. There are 50 internships available and employers can host more than one intern. The program is five to 10 weeks (maximum of 100 hours to be worked) from May 30 to August 11, 2017.

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    As an external host employer, the company would be placed with an intern that best matches your needs. Tri-C manages the HR functions of the internship such as hiring, placement and internship compensation. Students will be compensated by the college at $10 per hour and will also receive financial support for one course during the Summer Term (up to 4 credits) and one book (up to $125).  

    The host employer is responsible for:

    • Providing supervision, coaching, feedback, and support to the intern.
    • Providing meaningful work and learning experiences for the intern.
    • Developing and sharing a work plan for the intern, outlining objectives and deliverables throughout the five- or 10-week internship.
    • Providing a workspace and other resources (e.g., access to computer, reference materials, and telephone).
    • Attending the Host Information Session and an Onboarding Session during Spring Term.
    • Attending the Internship Fairs. This is essential because this is where you will meet and interview potential interns and make your top three intern selections.
      • Metropolitan Campus (downtown Cleveland) - Monday, March 13, 2017, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
      • Western Campus (Parma) - Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

    Internship host opportunities are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you are interested in hosting a student during summer 2017, please complete the Summer Internship Job Description and return to Angela Finding at afinding@gcpartnership.com by November 18, 2016. For questions regarding the program, call Angela at 216-592-2385.

    Please click on the links below to access additional information about the program.


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