The Power of 1-on-1s
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” As we study Scripture and grow in relationship with Jesus as a person, it is clear that His style of leadership and the way in which His Kingdom operates is wholeheartedly relational. He confirms this in His final recorded prayer to His Father. John chapter 17 affirms that He fulfilled His mission as a leader. Through intentional relationships, He revealed His Father’s Kingdom to His disciples, the people with whom He spent every day, working and ministering.
As we seek first God and His Kingdom in the marketplace, it is clear that our style of leadership should reflect the intentional style demonstrated by Jesus.
A central part of the culture at Betenbough Homes/Cornerstone Business Holdings is our 1-on-1 meetings. These meetings give our leaders a chance to engage with each member of their team, individually, every week. Leaders spend an hour with each of their team members, ideally face-to-face, engaged by talking about what is happening in the team member’s life.
While this is a substantial amount of time to take away from daily production, we have seen that the long-term payoff is more than worth it.
Growing in Leadership
At first glance, it can appear that a 1-on-1 only benefits the employee on the receiving end, but this practice is actually pivotal in growing as a leader and has major payoffs for the manager as well.
Vice President of Operations for Betenbough Homes, Corey Lusk, weighed in on his experience as a leader who spends many hours a week in 1-on-1s.
“1-on-1s promote team health long-term because they allow us to unplug for an hour and really connect with our people in a meaningful way,” Corey said.
Corey has been with Betenbough Homes for the past 11 years and remembers when the company initially introduced this idea.
“I was excited when we started implementing 1-on-1s because it was a step of intentionality. In order to grow as a leader, you have to hardwire healthy principles into your life – this time does that. It’s an hour on the calendar to practice intentionality with your people. Similar to working out, it only pays off if you actually show up. Many business leaders have great intentions of being intentional with their team, but it has to be hardwired,” Corey said.
Director of Sales Support for Betenbough Homes, Lauren Hays, also reflected back to when the company introduced this practice.
“As a manager, I think my first 1-on-1 was five minutes long. I didn’t know how to ask good questions – it was pretty awkward for both of us,” she said.
What started as awkward in the beginning, has become an area of growth for Lauren over the years.
“Over time, I have learned how to ask good questions that require thoughtful replies” Lauren said. “If you can learn how to ask good questions, you will build valuable relationships with the people around you.”
Lauren gave us an example of what she means by this concept.
“If I ask someone on my team how their day has been, and they reply with ‘it’s been okay’, instead of moving right on, that is a good opportunity to ask, ‘Just okay? Has anything happened that was hard?’”
Beyond developing leadership skills, engaging in regular 1-on-1s also helps you build trust with your team.
Human Resource Coordinator for Cornerstone Business Holdings, Amanda Fuhrman, shared how 1-on-1 meetings impact her view of the leadership over her.
“You find yourself naturally trusting your manager more. If your manager says something and you miss their true intentions in the moment, you are more likely to believe the best in them and give them the benefit of the doubt in those situations because you have spent time building a friendship with them,” Amanda said.
Growing in Relationship
While our leaders are undoubtedly passionate about the 1-on-1 experience, our employees are even more enthusiastic.
New Home Sales Specialist for Betenbough Homes, Darby Brown, shared what it’s like being on the other end of a 1-on-1.
“Having these designated times to visit and be transparent, especially if you’re having a hard week, has made me realize that my manager has my back – without a doubt,” Darby said.
Unity is a core value at Betenbough Homes. Darby explained that he sees 1-on-1s as a weekly touchpoint that reinforces this value.
“People start making assumptions when there is not good communication, and those assumptions are rarely accurate. Having a time when a manager and employee can sit down together and be open is a big reason I think our company is so unified,” Darby said.
Beyond good communication and a healthy work environment, the 1-on-1 has potential to even transform individual lives.
New Home Sales Associate for Betenbough Homes, Christie Tillis, remembered how surprised she was by this practice when she started her job.
“I cried in my first 1-on-1 because I was so touched that a manager cared enough to sit down and talk about me for a whole hour,” Christie said.
This is the heart of a 1-on-1, that the hour would exist to serve the employee. It is their hour to discuss anything that might be on their mind or heart. 1-on-1s are not a status update meeting to check in with employees about how their workload is going. It is a pause in the workday to organically grow relationship.
Darby has also been touched by the level of intentionality shown to him since he began his job.
“In my previous jobs, when someone in authority came to talk to me, it was usually never personal, but production related. It either made me feel not trusted, like they couldn’t trust me to produce the numbers they needed, or worse, if I had not produced those numbers, it made me feel like I had no value. It was a lose-lose situation,” Darby said.
“When I started at Betenbough Homes and someone would ask me how my day was going, I would get defensive and give examples of everything I had gotten done that day. After a while, I realized that was not what my manager was after. They really just wanted to know what kind of day I was having. That made such a huge impact on me,” Darby said.
Christie explained the impact this principle has made on her life, not just at work, but in every sphere.
“A while back I was in a season of life where I was dealing with a lot of anger. I happened to be in a 1-on-1 during that time, talking about this with my manager. She encouraged me to be honest with God about what I was feeling. That day, my manger really helped me break down some walls that left me so much closer to God. Now, I talk to God all the time,” Christie said.
New Home Sales Specialist for Betenbough Homes, Emily Betancur, added by explaining the value 1-on-1s have added to her everyday life.
“Having 1-on-1 time each week makes you feel cared for and that in turn, makes you want to offer that care to the people in your life. When I get home, I don’t have to unload on my family at the end of the day. I am able to be myself at work, and that really enhances how much I can pour into my family,” Emily said.
Most leaders who are seeking to lead a Kingdom business are probably interested and open to implementing something such as a 1-on-1, so what are some factors that prevent this from being implemented? These are some of the reasons we hear:
For a leader who has a large amount of direct reports, meeting with each of them for an hour a week might be unrealistic at this point, but it does not mean you can’t do something else. Consider touching base for half-an-hour rather than a full hour, eating lunch with a different team member each week or going to dinner with your spouses. Within our company, we try to keep each manager’s team to a maximum of five or six people, this might be a long-term goal to work towards if the amount of people you have reporting to you is unsustainable.
If this kind of intentionality has not been a part of your weekly routine, it is likely intimidating to think about adding it now. The truth of the matter is though, your team will enjoy and respect your effort, even if it’s not perfect. People usually do not get upset when someone is making an effort to care for them. This fear is unfounded and more than likely, a lie the enemy tells leaders to keep them from being all they are called to be.
- The Awkward Factor
If you move past the first two reasons listed above, there is still a good chance it might be awkward at first. That’s okay. The idea is to create an environment where you’re not forcing anything, but rather, letting relationship grow organically. Just plant the seed and let it grow. The first, second or even tenth 1-on-1 might be a little awkward, but you will be earning trust. One of our managers had fairly surface-level conversations with an employee for a year, but when something challenging arose in that employee’s life, they immediately opened up to the manager who had been investing in them faithfully for over a year. The trust that is built, despite the awkwardness, is well worth the effort.
The point of a 1-on-1 is not to be best friends with everyone on your team or expect perfect, conflict-free relationships at work. The purpose is to care for the people God has placed before you in a way that points them back to Him. For some people on your team, you may be the only person who is positioned to do this in their life. If that is true, this should be an honor more than a duty.
Let your team know you care more about them than the work they produce – the rest will take care of itself.
If you are interested in growing in further relational leadership strategies or learning more about how our company incorporates these principles, we would love to connect with you!
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