Tips for having better one-to-ones

Tips for better 1:1s: How can you better engage with your people?

  • Plan for your catch-ups, and do so before (not in them). Have a think about what you want to say in the meeting look back on what was said and actioned in the ones previous. Clarify what the goal of each 1-2-1 should be. Has your direct report followed upon what they said they would do. Come armed with some key questions, that go beyond the “what have you been up to”, contemplate getting past the simplistic defaults of manager – employee conversation.


  • Schedule your 1-2-1s in weekly (or monthly if more appropriate), with each individual. Doesn’t matter how senior or new they are. People need feedback and support, and to understand that they are important. Millennials are often pinpointed with needing more directive guidance. Saying, “my door is always open” is not always enough and can be intimidating for a new recruit. Actively engineering a meeting shows that to your employees that you care about them and that you want their feedback.


  • Don’t conform to a particular structure of 10/10/10, because 30 minutes might not be enough and because arbitrary structures like this may trivialise the actual conversation and limit important ideas or information that may come out in the 33rd minute. Have some idea of what you want to discuss: such as what has been successful at the moment, what hasn’t gone so well and what do they want to focus on next week. Catch-ups don’t always have to be about work, you can make them personal. Ask how your employees are feeling: Do they feel like the get enough recognition for good work? Do they feel like they can get constructive feedback?


  • Plan for the future. Each 1-2-1 is useless if there is no follow up or connecting point. What needs to be achieved in the next week, month, six months. Engage with your direct reports on what their career goals are what they want to achieve for the future. In and outside the company. Make sure you leave the meeting with a clear idea of what you would like to talk about in the next meeting. Similarly helping your employees set objectives can be a great way to guide them with their long-term development and goals.

Did you follow up on what you said you would do?  Holding yourself accountable for your actions, sets a precedent that your direct reports will follow.

Employees value communication from their manager not just about their roles and responsibilities, but also about what happens in their lives outside of work.

  • Face to face. Catch ups are best when they are completed in person. Email and Slack messages don’t quite cut it, people are able to hedge over their emotions and it can be difficult to get to the root of things. While face to face is a luxury afforded to people who work in offices and not at home. Managers can schedule a catch up in person monthly for remote workers and use google hangout in between.
  • Don’t miss your 1-2-1s, it sends out a message to your employees that more there are more important things than their time. Perhaps you block off the same half an hour for a person each week. Or you block of a half day for all of your team, to chat to them. Find what works best for you, but don’t miss them.

Enjoy your next one-to-one!

Found this advice useful? Follow us on Twitter @getmotivii

P.S.A. HALLOWEEN SPECIAL: Do you have looming spectres in your workplace?

Some areas of work might seem a bit too spooky and scary to deal with. We’ve alligned some key areas with our favourite halloween monsters.

Here are a few tricks and treats to help solve the situation

(bit like magic really)

  1. Organisation- Dementer  triwizardmaze_pm_b4c31m1_dementorintriwizardmaze_moment  

Often in some companies turnover can be very high or fear their security in their own job. This can lead to people losing sight of the product or services they are providing. Organisation issues have to be remedied to help retain key talent.


  • Understand: what is your company’s mission, what is it trying to do, how do you feel about this? Value: what are the values of your company and do you agree and relate to these values. Customer: do you know what your customers think about you. Impact: What impact are you having on the above? How can you help improve things at work?
  • Identify and solve an organisational problem; a great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as problem-solver within the organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.

2. Team- Wolves


Sometimes in companies there can be lone wolves in the wolfpack, often leaving many employees to feel alone and like their work isn’t worth being valued by their colleagues. Similarly in the work environment it can be hard to create strong friendships outside the workplace. Team collaboration can be one of the most important areas in businesses succeeding.


  • Organise team building sessions: People work better together if they get along. It’s just part of our natural human instinct. As a manager it is up to you to organise events that will help foster relationships between your team. Big or small, formal or informal, everything counts.
  • Encourage and welcome advice: If relationships are suffering or you’re finding it difficult to work well with your team, ask your manager for advice. Rather than complaining about your colleagues, which likely won’t go down well with your manager, ask them for advice on how they think you could improve certain relationships.
  1. Communication- Zombies


At time we can be left in the dark about where our company is going. Similarly without frequent two-way communication between employees and managers it is difficult to know when things are going well in terms of performance and also motivation levels at work. Often managers forget that employees, like their customers and clients, need support and attention to be the most productive and motivated to do the best job possible.


  • Don’t shy away from problems; If problems arise within work, don’t shy away from them; face them head on. Tell your boss when things aren’t going right, and communicate to them your prepared solutions. This will generate a faster, problem-solving conversation between you both and will nip the issue in the bud before it spirals into something bigger.
  • Make internal knowledge and documents easily accessible: especially important for newer employees, making internal documentation easily accessible is a great way of boosting communication and can even act as a training programme for new staff. Sharing files via Google drive or making them accessible on your company intranet is a good start.
  1. Wellbeing- Edward Scissorhands


Long hours and lack of sunlight are no longer vogue in the modern workplace. Commonly in the workplace we are pressed for hard work rather than clever work, which can be detrimental to employees well being. Hard work often doesn’t allow employees to do what they are best at. For engaged employees, wellbeing and mindfulness should be respected and encouraged in the workplace.


  • Promote a healthy lifestyle: adopting a healthy lifestyle is a key element in improving your workplace wellbeing. For example if you’ve got a busy afternoon, a heavy lunch probably isn’t the best option. Nor is skipping it completely.
  • Drink lots of water: water is the key to a healthy mind and body. Make sure you drink enough and you have access to it at work. Get into the habit of having a glass or bottle at your desk
  1. Manager – Voldemort


Managing can be hard, while we all know we need to better managing ourselves it can be difficult to manage other people at the same time. Some managers may find themselves too busy to give feedback to their direct reports. But they do not see the importance of giving praise to their employees. Similarly employees can often feel that ghost-like managers do not respect or value the work that they do, therefore they become disenchanted and disengaged with the tasks at hand.


  • Schedule catch-ups into your monthly routine: Town Halls, or simple monthly meetings, are a great way for everyone to share what’s happening and ask questions. This helps keep everyone in the loop. Motivii has recently launched a ‘Meeting Mode’ which would be really useful for these meetings; it summarises everyone’s weekly reviews into one page which you can all discuss together.
  1. Development- Chucky


Sometimes the path of work can get a bit spooky and unknown. Without good managing employees can lack direction and development can be stunted. Without opportunities to learn and grow within a company a general malaise can settle and morph into prolonged discontent and stagnation.


  • Engage your manager in a career discussion; Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career
  • Attend courses to broaden your skills; once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.

Understanding the buzz around employee engagement


What is employee engagement and how can you improve it?

Here are some quick and easy to follow thoughts…

What is employee engagement?

According to Wikipedia, an engaged employee is one that is absorbed and fully enthusiastic about their work and takes action to better their organisation’s reputation and interests.

Gallup has found that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged at work, and disengaged employees equal costly outcomes. However, companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share (Gallup).  Better employee engagement makes companies 21% more profitable and improves rates of absenteeism, customer ratings and less safety incidents.

So HOW can you improve it?

Being an engaging manager…

  • Listen

Being a good listener is tough; many people think they are good listeners without considering what it means to actually “listen”. Often in conversations we are waiting to talk rather than actually listening to what people have to say. Similarly, being silent while someone is talking does not mean we are engaging with what they are saying. Creating a two way dialogue and prompting questions can lead to discovery and more cooperative conversations.

As a manager being available for one-to-ones and group conversations shows that you care about your employees and are available to talk to them about any challenges they are facing. Being an approachable and authentic manager means that you can engage with your direct reports about their future in the workplace.

  • Set personalised goals for each employee

Creating personalised goals allows employees to find a way to give their own contribution to your business. Collaboratively setting goals moves away from top-down management. Personal goals look towards career development but also give focus for day to day work.

People on average spend 43.6 hours at work a week, averaging on more than 8 hours a day. With so much time spent at work, working for a purpose has never garnered so much importance.  As Gallup has found, 50% of millennials said that they would take a pay cut in order to have purpose in work.

  • Create meaningful conversations

Create a structured plan for meetings which provide clarity on any loose ends. One recommendation is setting out a 3 pronged structure for meetings with a beginning, middle and end, and making sure that meetings do not drag on and are appropriately “wrapped” up. Focusing on strengths-based development instills confidence through praise. Gallup finds that sales increase by 19% for strengths-based development workplaces. By focusing on employees strengths, the manager is actively engaging with their employees. Sometimes it is up to managers to guide employees to unlock their strengths or teach them how to use them.

  • Consider.. management training

Managing human beings, both introverts and extroverts, with a wide range of skills can be overwhelming. Often managers become managers because they are the best in their field,  yet many are not taught to manage. On average managers only get training in leadership skills ten years after they first became managers (Zenger Folkman). Often this is too late, and bad managerial habits have set in from the first year. Zenger argues that bad managerial traits are contagious and can lead to the formation of good habits or bad habits. His studies found that there is strong correlation between the behaviour of a manager and the impact on their subordinates in terms of their leading styles. Poor leadership can encourage a culture of dissatisfaction and disengagement among employees. A solution to safeguarding against dissatisfied employees is an investment in leadership training for managers and senior leaders.

Ditching Employee engagement surveys…

Deloitte’s 2016 Human Capital Trends highlighted that 85 per cent of executives surveyed pinpointed employee engagement as a top priority for 2016. Yet, there are better ways to listen to your employees than through timely, expensive surveys. Engagement surveys can be regarded as a de-personalised drop in the ocean.

As Liz Ryan candidly put in a Forbes article:

“How close would you feel to your spouse or partner if they gave you a survey to complete once a year, in order to let them know how you feel the relationship is going? You probably wouldn’t love that idea. Relationships don’t thrive because one party to the relationship sends the other party a survey to complete.”

Surveys are a mechanical process sending out a message to employees that their views on the workplace can be quantified once a year, in a bureaucratic fashion. It sends out the message that their job can be categorised into a few sections. Many employees never see the true results of surveys and find that giving feedback only once a year is not indicative of how they are feeling throughout the year and at different quarters.

stickie-engagement Arguably there is no silver bullet for employee engagement. However managers and their leadership styles should be at the forefront for engaging employees at a localised level and also in terms of the culture of the feedback system in the organisation.

6 ways to become a Time Wizard



Don’t worry, it won’t take long to read this!


Michelangelo and Steve Jobs were given the same amount of minutes as us in the day, but it all depends on how you use them.

Here are some tips to help you become a time wizard and manage your team more efficiently:

  1. Make time strategic

In the workplace some issues are of more strategic value than others. It is up to the time- canny wizards to decide what is the most important to be dealt with first. Michael Mankins found that 80 per cent of a manager’s time is devoted to less than 20 per cent of a company’s long term value. Thus a manager needs to be focused on decisions, not always non-strategic discussion.

A good way to address decision making is through…

  1. Structured team meetings

Online engagement tools can help structure and inform team meetings. Employees can reflect on the past week by looking at what they have achieved, and similarly what they have found difficult. By doing this they can consolidate their focus, and self-manage what their goals are for the next week. As a manager you can use this information to amplify discussion and create a structured pathway for team meetings.

Online engagement tools also allow employees to express how they feel right away, preventing issues within the organisation being dragged out from quarter to quarter. Similarly engaged and structured team meetings can show managers that teams are acting on what’s been agreed to in meetings.

  1. Keep meetings short and punchy

Planning meetings beforehand, and keeping a time limit on them, allows people to be focused and stay attentive. Be firm and address the key issues at the beginning of the meeting. Be engaged and don’t allow yourself, or your employees, to be distracted from work by other work.

  1. Keeping focus

Many employees and managers admit to doing emails or other work during meetings which can cause them to drag on and lose focus.  As the common saying goes: better to do something well or not at all.

Often we attempt to do 1000x tasks at once but at times the quality of our work is not always tiptop, meaning that more time has to be spent later correcting the work we do. In light of this we should prioritise what is most important and do it first.

  1. Make little changes to make your life easier

A common myth is that in order to manage time more efficiently you need to change yourself drastically. Little steps towards better time management can help in exponential ways. For example, you can use online personal assistant tools to go through emails; highlighting the most important ones and push the less important ones to the back. Use mechanisms to track emails sent by you, schedule emails for particular times and then follow those emails with automated canned responses to save your time and much needed brain power.

  1. Be kind to yourself

Sometimes you just can’t do everything. With an increasing workload, taking more breaks can help with efficiency. Exercise and practicing mindfulness can help you step away from work and re-calibrate. Learn how to say no and to delegate. Often we take on too much because we want to do the best job, but as a manager or an employee there are people in our team who can help us.

In summary, we can’t do it all, but as William Penn said

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst”

So take a minute to think how you can make use of your valuable time better.  


Motivii at Employee Benefits Live


eamon-about-to-go-live-with-rbsMotivii’s first event and what an outing it was.

With our grey personalised t-shirts we gave Zuckerberg a run for his money.

EBL is one of the largest rewards and benefits events in Europe and it brought together a number of interesting companies and ideals.

What did we learn from the event?

“Employee” and “manager” engagement were the buzz phrases over the two days and we had a lot to talk about on the matter.