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Ask Anne: One-on-ones and Fun

Ask Anne: One-on-ones and Fun

I am having a hard time keeping my employees engaged. Some seem very happy, work hard, and know what they want, but others just float along, only doing what they must to get by.  What can I do to get them engaged and more productive?

You need to become The Engager! But the term “engagement” is a bit nebulous, and there’s no easy way to tell if employees are totally engaged. Seemingly happy employees aren’t necessarily engaged, and you can’t be certain that outwardly stoic employees are not engaged. It’s a subjective measurement from an employee about your company at any given time.

The company culture plays a big role in getting and keeping employees engaged. Do you have company rituals, processes, benefits, awards, and recognition for engaged employees? Those things help.

One tool we’ve used to get our staff engaged is one-on-one meetings with managers and other company leaders. We utilize an agenda with predeveloped items on it — that way the meetings ensure every staff member gets time with their leader and both know the topics for discussion. A few questions you can ask in these meetings include:

  • What things are working well and what are key performance indicators for you?
  • What progress are we making on your personal development?
  • How are you making progress on your annual goals?
  • What can I, the leader, do to help you achieve your goals?
  • What business or personal items need to be addressed?
  • What did we learn from this meeting?

These one-on-one meetings allow leaders to have consistent and meaningful discussion with team members on personal and professional levels. The employees know how they’re doing, how they need to improve, how they can advance their career, and where to go for help. Most of all, these meetings create open and honest communication between the employee and their leader.



I never seem to have enough time to do the little things a CEO should do — send birthday wishes, LinkedIn congrats, talking to my spouse about life, writing thank you notes, and more. How can I better balance these things?

There’s never enough time in the day to look for new business opportunities, recognize employees, show staff how much you care, etc. This is a universal problem for top management, I think. Recently I read an article written by a CEO in Chicago who runs a major insurance company with thousands of employees. He decided that it was his role, not his assistant’s, to wish his staff a happy birthday. He also wanted to have time to text his kids, look at the grandkids’ pictures on Facebook, and do the other little personal things that everyone wants to do. So, what was his solution? He scheduled it out. Every Monday morning, he went to the office early, looked at his calendar of “have-tos,” then scheduled 15-minute segments of spontaneity time. He made sure to have at least one per day and sometimes squeezed in two. His assistant was told to shut his door and turn off the inbound calls. During his “free time,” he made birthday calls, looked at Facebook, and even called his kids.

In life, we schedule our time off and our vacation time. Why not schedule a bit of time to do the little things at work that have such a big payoff?


Anne Williams is the president of JobFinders. She is not an attorney. All content in this column is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality and is not to be construed as legal advice.


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