Manager/employee touch-base meetings were created to be better than yearly or twice-yearly job reviews; they are especially effective when you are leading younger generations.

Why are touch-base meetings more effective than old-fashioned, standard job reviews?

First and foremost, they take place monthly, or even every few weeks, and therefore, they provide the frequent feedback that younger generations value. (Again, younger generations dislike working in a vacuum.)

What was wrong with traditional job reviews? Most are unmotivating. A supervisor usually pulls up a document that was created in the last job review and says, “Here are the to-dos we talked about last time. Have you done this? Have you done that?” Followed by the next killer question: “Well, why not?”

If you conduct reviews like these, you are sending the message that you, the manager, know everything and that your supervisee must prove him or herself. You are older, you know better, and your younger generation worker feels stifled. He or she leaves the session feeling blamed, pressured, and maybe even threatened.

There are simple, highly effective ways to turn touch-base meetings into opportunities for mentoring, coaching, and positive motivation for younger generations.

The strategy is to reverse the process so you’re letting your employee take responsibility, rather than “catching” what they’re doing wrong.

  • Start with a simple question. Questions like “Has it been a good few weeks since we last talked?” or, “Have you been enjoying work lately?” kick off a give-and-take conversation that allows you to then talk about anything in a safe way. They also offer you a chance to get a general feel for how things are going for your employee.
  • Replace “Let’s see how you’re doing on your to do list” with “What do you feel good about accomplishing since we last talked?” If you follow this advice, you will start out focusing on positive changes and accomplishments that the younger generation worker has made. Next, give positive reinforcement for what they’ve gotten done and let them feel proud of their achievements. Then, move on to any items that are still undone, which you can now discuss in a positive and upbeat way. This approach drains the blame from your meeting and creates positive and motivational conversations.
  • Ask, “Are there areas where you need help?” This is where you can coach and assist employees. Your offer of help prevents them from feeling bad about something that is undone and lets them feel comfortable about getting the help they may need. Be sure to listen for underlying reasons why your employee might not be tackling certain tasks. The issue could be time, meaning they don’t have enough of it to do everything. Perhaps others in the organization could help? It could be that they lack some piece of technology that would help them, the services of a consultant, or possibly something else. By offering assistance, you are helping someone avoid feeling guilty about not being able to get something done. Under the old system of job reviews, people would often feel shamed and want to mislead or try to divert blame from themselves—that is very unhelpful. Having a frank and honest discussion is much more effective.
  • Let the employee set his or her own “to-dos” and priorities. As a supervisor, there will be times when you need to make firm assignments. But as often as you can, allow your younger generation employee to set his or her own priorities and projects, building a sense of ownership and enthusiasm.
  • Observe the “five to one” rule when meeting with supervisees who could benefit from an extra dose of positive inspiration. How does it work? For every one thing you say that could be interpreted as criticism, say five things that are positive and encouraging.

After the steps I recommend above, ask your employees how they’re doing on their career plan (a better name than a “to-do list”) to see if anything has been overlooked. Then, ask if they have anything they would like to add to the list. You can follow up with questions like, “Why do you think this is important?” and, “How do you plan to tackle it?” If there’s something you would like them to put on their list that they didn’t already think of, now’s the time to mention it. Most of the time, it is likely the employee has already thought of the new idea you suggest.

Evan Hackel

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