Hold individual meetings with your employees every 2 weeks
Individual annual interviews were seen as a source of stress by managers and employees at Buffer. Employees, like managers, found it particularly difficult to remember the work done during the entire year. In addition, the interview was quickly moving towards a "scoring" exercise without touching on the most important topics.
At Buffer, they have discarded their annual interviews to set up a continuous performance assessment. The individual interview was transformed into a 70-minute individual meeting every 2 weeks.
Before starting the interview
The golden rule of an individual interview at Buffer is to understand that the meeting is for the employee and not for the manager.
In practice, the individual interview is structured so as to leave 85% of the discussion time to the employee.
The employee is free to decide the content. The manager will help the employee expressing his/her words by asking him questions and simply listening to him/her.
10 minutes to share and celebrate last week's results
Most of the time, the meeting starts with the question, "How did last week go?"
The answers can be both "personal" and "professional".
Buffer has established 2 rules:
- There is no small victory!
- No complacency: In other words, if the employee says "I think I could have been better at it", don't say "No, it was good" but rather "It's interesting! and "I understand what you mean, what would you have done differently?"
40 minutes to discuss current challenges
The most difficult and exciting part for the manager!
To get started, you can ask the following questions:
- How are you feeling?
- Do you think the current number of tasks you have to take on are too many? At the right level? Or do you want to do more?
- How's teamwork going? And with the other services?
The employee will tell you about HIS/HER problems. Don't try to find solutions for him or her! You have to make an effort to keep your ideas/solutions to yourself (even if they are excellent).
Galileo said, "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself."
You will have to play around asking questions that allows the employee to come up with solutions to the problem by himself.
To do so, you can ask the following questions:
- Can you tell me more about that?
- You just told me... Can you go a bit deeper?
Buffer's managers were pleasantly surprised to find out that their own ideas were often not the best at the end of the discussion. One of the benefits of these 40 minutes is to increase the motivation of your interlocutor (and for you, to gain information from the field).
10 minutes to give feedback to the employee
Be sincere about what you think and justify what you say. You can use the information you gained in the previous 40 minutes to:
- Clarify points
- Give your opinion: "Maybe what would be good for you is..."
10 minutes to improve as a manager
The goal of these 10 minutes is to collect the maximum amount of information regarding your management style.
Buffer observed that these 10 minutes were really useful to create a real bond of trust with people.
You can use the following questions to guide these 10 minutes:
- What can I do to make your job easier?
- What do you like about my management style? What don't you like?
- Would you like me to help you structure your work more?
- What could I do to make you enjoy your daily work more?
- What would you like to know about me?
- Is there a situation where you want my help?
- Is there anything I can be better at?