Monday, March 29, 2021

Good Communication is Like Exercise

Actions to take: Develop a plan and routine for frequent communication. Just like exercise, you can't rely on yourself to do it "when things come up." You have to be intentional. This blog's advice for accomplishing that routine largely centers around weekly one-on-ones with every direct report.

More than anything else in this blog, people resist the idea of doing one-on-ones every week. That is the sticking point for so many people. Smart people. People I respect a great deal.  

I had a tough time understanding why I couldn't convince them. They would agree on practically every other piece of advice I gave, but they would hold out on the frequency issue. "There just isn't enough to talk about." "Monthly one-on-ones are more than enough." "I touch base with my people all the time already." 

After having this debate for the dozenth time, I landed on an analogy that captures the value of doing one-on-ones every week. As a bonus for me, it explained why people who haven't experienced it don't get it. 

Communication is like jogging for your health. 

It builds on itself. The more you do it, the more effective it is. One session informs the next, and one session pushes you to do more with the next. You have to be intentional about it, with a plan and a structure to your workout. You can't just say "I'll jog whenever the opportunity come up." Anyone who has struggled even a little with maintaining an active lifestyle knows that slippery slope. Instead, you schedule it. You stick to that schedule because you know, once you give yourself a pass once or twice, you're on the downward spiral. You can't say, "I'll jog for 2 minutes here, 2 minutes there, and it'll add up." It doesn't.

Most importantly, like jogging, you will not appreciate the value if you get in a good, long session only once a month. You'll say, "That felt like a good workout, but I don't really see the point. I'm exhausted after it, it never gets easier, and I'm not getting any healthier. Why would I ever consider doing it more frequently!" Jogging and one-on-one meetings are the same. Unless you've had weekly meetings with a manager who is really putting in the effort, or you have been that manager yourself, you will never fully appreciate how much value they bring to the work environment. 

Try weekly one-on-ones for two months using the guidance from this blog. Eight sessions with each of your employees before you pass judgment on the idea. If you are not convinced after 8 sessions, by all means, stop jogging.

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