WhatsApp enables me to be more connected with friends than I ever have been before. There are some groups I speak to every day. In fact, if there are a couple of us online at the same time then a full conversation can flow, as if we were sat around the table in a bar. Except we’re not. So as much as the conversation flows and it’s a brilliant way of feeling connected, particularly with those of us abroad, are we having the right conversations? Little snippets here and there, a cry for help goes unnoticed for hours, not to mention tone of voice being totally void. But what has this got to do with 1:1’s I hear you ask?
These conversations epitomise for me why 1:1’s with employees are so important. There are so many ways of staying in touch with teams, particularly given different working patterns, time zones and locations. So whilst we may feel incredibly well connected, are we genuinely connecting? Are our teams giving us those snippet updates and telling us when there has been a total emergency but not feeling like we are invested in a proper conversation with them?
This really hit home for me the other day when I met two of my best friends for lunch. We are part of the same WhatsApp group I mentioned earlier who speak every day. When we arrived at lunch, we all had topics to talk about that hadn’t even been hinted at on the hundreds of messages that week in the group. We talked about “saving them up” for a proper face to face conversation because they were really important to us. We wanted to be able to dig a little deeper, be vulnerable and know the others were invested in the conversation, not having a quick scan through the chat whilst waiting for the kettle to boil.
How many important but not necessarily urgent conversations are employees “saving up” for that elusive 1:1? And then when we get to the meeting, do we give the time and space for them to raise them? It’s easy to mistake being well connected for connecting. The technology is great at helping us keep in the loop in a fast-paced world. But perhaps we all need to make time to be old-fashioned and have a proper conversation from time to time.