One-on-One Employee Meetings Can Increase Employee Engagement
One-on-one employee meetings with direct reports can be a powerful tool to increase employee engagement and productivity.

What is Wrong with One-on-One Employee Meetings
Unfortunately, most employees and managers feel one-on-one employee meetings are often:

  • Disorganized – too many one-on-one employee meetings have unclear goals, agendas and next steps
  • Rushed – too many one-on-one employee meetings are skipped or short-changed by the urgent priority of the day
  • Tactical – too many one-on-one employee meetings focus on urgent activities and issues versus strategies, relationships, processes and growth.
  • Unilateral – too many leaders control decision making, veto solutions that diverge from their preferences and limit their direct report’s discretion in one-on-one employee meetings.
  • Unaccountable – for one-on-one employee meetings to change behavior, performance and engagement, each meeting should be should be a positive, transparent and customized investment in the employee’s growth and chances for success.

Why One-on-One Employee Meetings Matter
Most leaders know it is wise to hold regular check-ins with their employees, but how can you ensure the meetings are  productive and collaborative enough that they are worth the time and effort it takes to get them right?

One-on-One’s Should Improve Employee Engagement
When it comes to increasing employee engagement, managers have a lot of influence.

  • 85.7% of highly engaged organizations conduct regular manager-employee one-on-one meetings.
  • Highly engaged employees even rate one-on-one meetings as their #1 communication strategy, ranking above all-company meetings and emails from leadership.
  • 85% of hostile employees say they don’t receive frequent enough feedback and coaching from their manager.

One-on-One’s Should Improve Accountability
High performing organizations consistently clarify, monitor, expose and reward performance.  Every employee should have clear success metrics that are perceived as relevant, meaningful, fair, consistent, accurate, trusted, timely, transparent and just possible.  A long but important list to get performance measures right.

How To Design One-on-One Employee Meetings that Work
So how do managers leverage their interactions to keep employees engaged? How can they create an environment of open feedback and show they care? How do they make sure effective, ongoing employee coaching doesn’t slip through the cracks and lead to disengagement or a lack of accountability?

We recommend you hold a manager-employee meeting monthly or quarterly — if managers can’t meet with each team member at least four times a year, the team might be too big. In each meeting, managers and employees discuss goals, obstacles, opportunities, and decisions (GOOD). Here’s the breakdown:

GOALS: What Do You Want to Achieve? 
Discuss the status of goals since your last one-on-one meeting, analyze the progress made on current goals, and plan for new and upcoming goals.

  • What long-term goals have we agreed to?
  • How have things gone since we last spoke?
  • What are our plans until next time?

OBSTACLES: What’s Standing In The Way of Your Success?
Talk through the obstacles that are standing in the way of goal completion and overall employee success. This can be anything from lack of resources to conflict with a coworker to unproductive work environment.

  • What’s standing in your way?
  • What have I noticed getting in your way?
  • What can I do to help? What can you do?

OPPORTUNITIES: Where Do You Want to Go from Here?
Discuss employee opportunities for recognition of work, personal and professional growth, and increased job satisfaction.

  • What are you proud of that people don’t know about?
  • Do you feel you’re growing toward where you want to be?
  • What could we do to make this your dream job?

DECISIONS: What Will be Done Before Our Next One-on-one Meeting?
Make decisions on what will be accomplished before your next meeting. Decide who will tackle which tasks and recap any new or updated goals.

  • What actions will you take before next time?
  • What actions will I take before next time?
  • What other big decisions did we make?

The Bottom Line
Effective one-on-one employee meetings include feedback that is always specific, frequent, outcome-focused, positive, and sometimes conversational. Make sure your one-on-one meetings are GOOD.

To learn more about increasing employee engagement, download The Top 10 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

Jenny Dearborn Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results
Congratulations to LSA Client, Jenny Dearborn, the Executive Vice President, Human Resources at SAP, for publishing her book: Data Driven: How Performance Analytics Delivers Extraordinary Sales Results.

Data Can Be Your Most Valuable Asset as a Leader
Jenny thoughtfully discusses how data can be your most valuable asset as a leader. She shares how most organizations capture and report data, but data is useless without analysis that leads to action. The Data Driven Leader shows you how to use this tremendous asset to lead your organization higher.

Realistic and Actionable
This book tells the story of a successful sales executive who, after leading an analytics-driven turnaround (in Data Driven, this book’s predecessor), faces a new turnaround challenge as chief human resources officer.

LSA Global’s CEO, Tristam Brown
LSA Global’s CEO, Tristam Brown, is quoted in the book discussing the dangers of trying to solve the wrong problems.

Data-driven Decision-making and Strategies
This book is for you if you want to learn about Jenny’s take on data-driven decision-making and strategies and how to:

  •  Understand essential data science principles and corporate analytics models
  • Identify and execute effective data analytics initiatives
  • Boost HR and company productivity and performance with metrics that matter
  • Shape an analytics-centric culture that generates data driven leaders

To learn more about making better decisions, read How to Avoid Making Bad Decisions When Change Is Needed

The Art of Effective Sales Questions
The best sales people typically ask the most effective sales questions.  Being able to ask good questions is an art. Asking effective questions is a necessary skill for journalists, a developmental skill for salespeople and a desirable skill for conversationalists.

Insightful Sales Questions = Insightful Customer Conversations
As far as sales is concerned, good questioning skills are essential, value selling training experts say, for success. It is the basis for learning (and teaching) just exactly what your customers want and need.  Unfortunately, too many buyers report that sales professionals ask them a canned list of questions trying to close the deal.

Poor Sales Questions = Poor Customer Conversations
Anyone who has ever been on the other end of a high pressured sales conversation can attest that the “poor-questions approach” does not build trust, credibility or revenue.  In fact, poor sales questions typically lead to unqualified leads, missed opportunities and wasted effort.

Four Steps to Help Master the Art of Effective Sales Questions
If you want to have meaningful and insightful sales conversations with your target buyers:

1.  Start with Open-Ended Questions
The most effective sales questions are open-ended.  Open-ended questions are those that cannot be answered with a simple (and unhelpful) “yes” or “no.” They require a more thoughtful answer.  Try to always begin with the big six open-ended questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • And our favorite – Why?

The best solution sellers are curious about how they can truly help their clients to succeed.   Open-ended questions promote a meaningful and client-centered conversation.  Without them, it is difficult to uncover customer goals, problems, needs, objections, risks and next steps in a way that makes sense.

2.  Be Clear and Concise
Get right to the point. Don’t ramble. You will lose focus and your target will be confused.

3.  Actively Listen and Embrace Silence
Do not interrupt.  Actively listen.  And be patient with silence by accepting the pause.

Sometimes counting to 10 before speaking again can help you become more comfortable.  Your listener will soon fill it…hopefully with the answer you were looking for.

4.  Be Authentic and Client-Centered
First, have your client’s best interests at heart.  Second, ask follow-up or clarifying questions if you do not understand what they are talking about…especially if it gives them a chance to be the expert and keep talking.

The Bottom Line
The better you become at listening and the art of effective sales questions, the more you help your customers to succeed.  The more you help your customers to succeed, the more you will sell.

Want to learn more? Download 30 Effective Sales Questions More Important than Budget When Selling Solutions

Sales and Marketing Leaders Want to Convert More Sales Prospects
But not all prospects or leads are created equal.   Some are the key to value and solution selling success; others are not.  Too many sales and marketing leaders treat all leads with the same amount of time, attention and effort. This undisciplined approach is bound to disappoint.

Defining Marketing and Sales Leads to Convert More Sales Prospects
To set your sales and marketing teams up for success, we recommend starting by defining two main types of leads.

  • A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospective customer that is more likely to become a paying customer compared to other leads based on pre-determined demographics, activities, attributes or behaviors that are aligned with your ideal target client profile and unique value proposition.  In other words, they are worth investing the time and energy to nurture and potentially vet.
  • A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospective customer that has been researched and vetted — first by marketing or business development, then by sales – and is qualified enough to move to the next stage in the sales process.

The Job of Marketing
We believe it is the job of marketing to create brand awareness and generate consistent marketing qualified leads that have a high likelihood to turn into sales qualified leads.  In short, marketing should help set the stage to convert more sales prospects into buying customers.

The Job of Sales
We believe it is the job of sales to convert more sales prospects into buying customers by turning marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads – that turn into profitable customers.  Top performing solution sellers excel at conversion.

The Bottom Line
To convert more sales prospects into paying and satisfied customers, focus on the quality (not the quantity) of your leads.  Marketing to or following up on unqualified leads that do not match your value proposition can be a total waste of valuable marketing and selling resources.  You will know you are on the right track when you increase the percentage of leads that convert into customers.

To learn more about sales performance, download 15 Sales Warning Signs Your Sales Team is Headed in the Wrong Direction

The Difference Between Leading Sales Metrics and Lagging Sales Metrics
Unfortunately most sales teams are either confused about  leading sales metrics or do not use them at all. Their sales teams feel like they are blind to what activities matter most.

  • Leading Sales Metrics are the greatest and most influenceable predictors of sales goal achievement.
  • Lagging Sales Metrics measure sales goal achievement results for a specific period of time.

The Value of Leading Sales Metrics
Because they are predictive and influenceable, leading sales metrics provide real-time feedback and enable sales teams to learn and adjust behaviors to increase their chances of achieving their sales goals.  While they are often challenging to identify and track, they are worth their weight in gold.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could measure the likelihood of sales before they happen?

Don’t just work through the selling process blindfolded, hoping to find your way. There are leading sales measures you can apply that will help predict sales success and allow you to adapt your approach if you are not moving in the right direction.

An Example of a Leading Sales Metric

  • Perhaps you have learned that the salespeople who reach out to customers with key insights on a weekly basis are more successful than those who check in less frequently or do not provide valuable insights.
  • Or you may find that the salespeople who regularly spend one-quarter of their day researching and prospecting are better at maintaining a productive pipeline.

If so, measure those two leading sales metrics of success. They will tell you how a salesperson is doing during the sales process, predict outcomes and, when needed, allow for sales performance coaching to improve their chances of success.

The Bottom Line
Identify the critical few sales activities that lead to success for your specific sales strategy, target market and value proposition. Then measure, support and reinforce them at every turn.

Want more sales coaching tips? Download The Truth about Sales Coaching’s Biggest Mistakes

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