How often are you meeting with your staff?

Now, I’m not talking about packing 30 bodies into a conference room on Monday mornings and glossing over the schedule while everyone white knuckles their coffee. Nor am I referencing the brief moments you spend with employees in the hallways discussing your weekends.

I’m talking about actually spending face-to-face time with those who are responsible for making your business work. Are you meeting once a month in a group setting? Is that really often enough?


Perhaps you should consider scheduling one 30-minute meeting with each of your department supervisors every week.

You’re probably thinking, “Whoa. Thirty minutes. I don’t have time for that.” And, I get it — given your daily responsibilities, obligations, and other business meetings, time is of the essence. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is very little time. Out of 160 monthly hours, you’d be devoting two intimate hours to each person responsible for the direct success of your business. That breaks down to 1.25 percent of your monthly work schedule. If you have 10 employees, you’d be offering up, based on my math, about 12 percent of your time.

Employees are aware how busy you are. And, scheduling regular one-on-one time with them expresses value. It’s a way for you to show them that they are important, all the time.

Make it clear you’re not asking to meet with them because you like them, want to coddle them, or want to micromanage their teams;  you’re meeting with them to provide an open forum where both parties can discuss business decisions with the ultimate goal of producing better results.

10-10-10 FORMAT

May I suggest formatting these meetings accordingly: 10 minutes for the employee, 10 minutes for you, and 10 minutes for future development.

Always let employees start these meetings, because it reinforces they are the primary focus. As a manager, you have access to your employees at any time. You can request their presence whenever you want, and they’re obligated to reply. However, the same may not be true when they request your attention.

Start each meeting with a blanket statement, such as, “Tell me about your week,” “Update me on project X,” or “How’s it going?” This allows employees to lead the discussion. And, while the focus is on building a business relationship, encourage them to discuss whatever they want, whether that’s work, their families, pets, hobbies, challenges, careers, etc.

Then, the next 10 minutes are yours. You can discuss projects the team is working on, stuff you may need from them, things you’ve heard from your managers that may be pertinent to the employee’s duties, etc. This is also a good time to provide positive feedback and offer constructive criticism.

The last 10 minutes should be reserved for the future. Encourage employees to discuss their careers, training, development, opportunities, shortcomings, etc. While you may not discuss the future during every meeting, it’s important to let the employee know that you’re invested in them. If employees spill into your time, that’s fine. Let them talk the entire 30 minutes, if necessary. You can always circle back during the week and share what you need to share.


You may be thinking, “I see my employees every day, and we chat all the time. I don’t need to schedule these visits.”

Well, you’re right and wrong. These conversations may occur, but they’re likely short and focused on something very specific, such as a recent weekend trip, football, or your son’s T-ball dominance.

Scheduled one-on-one meetings offer you a chance to build relationships with your team. If your employees want to talk about puppies and rainbows, then talk puppies and rainbows. If one wants to talk hockey, and you don’t know a thing about hockey, DVR the next local NHL game. This is how relationships are built.

As your personal relationships grow, so will your professional relationships. Strong professional relationships strengthen trust, build mutual respect, encourage open communication, and, ultimately, create stronger businesses.

In full transparency, this insight is not all mine. These methods come courtesy of Mike Auzenne and Mark Horstman’s award-winning Manager Tools consulting firm. If you’re interested in kick-starting one-on-one meetings with your staff, the crew at Manager Tools offers a wealth of free information, including a sample one-on-one email for you to send to your staff and hundreds of free podcasts designed to make you a better manager. For more information, visit

I’ll be starting this process with the team here at The NEWS this week and will report back on our progress. If you choose to go down this path, please share your experiences, as well.

Best of luck creating the strongest, most successful HVAC contracting team possible.

Publication date: 10/3/2016

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