Recently, I hired someone new to managing people and, appropriately, she had spent the last 90 days getting her arms around the business and getting to know the people she is leading. That seems to have gone well, but she was noticing she and the team weren’t advancing priorities, and the interactions had become too casual and lacked some accountability.
I shared with her a time-tested truth about managing people: great management is a combination of formal and informal touch points throughout the week.
Let me explain.
Most managers, including myself and the woman I hired, are pretty good at informal touch-ins. Those are the “I care” calls where you just touch base. What takes more work, however, are the formal touch-ins. I offered the following easy-to-execute structure for those formal touch-ins:
- Managers should meet weekly with direct reports to review the key priority from the prior 7 days. Note: Every other week is fine for top performers who need little oversight.
- The meetings should be no more than 45 minutes, and the ONLY conversation is about the priority and how to achieve it.
- If the priority has been achieved, set a new one, and you can talk about anything else you want.
Yes, you can “plus” this with more formal management methodologies if you have time. In my experience, though, most small business owners do not actually have that time, so keep it simple. Just remember formal vs informal touch-ins each offer something different, and it’s executing both that makes great management.
Another thing: the manager also needs to manage communication and expectations with the owner or the chief executive they report to. This is important and should not be overlooked. How owners want to be managed can vary, though at minimum, a weekly email or voice note to the owner reporting on the manager’s priorities is a great way to keep things aligned.