In the daily life of a Manager, the first one-to-one meeting with a new Employee is always a highlight that will determine the future of the relationship.
Whether on the occasion of a recruitment, internal mobility or a new position at the head of a team, it is essential to receive each new Employee face-to-face in order to get to know each other, take the temperature, define the rules of the game from the outset and initiate the relationship.
This first meeting will lay the foundations for the future relationship. It is important to give it the necessary time, from an hour to an hour and a half, and to prepare it seriously. To this end, a five-step interview framework can be useful.
Step #1: Get to know each other.
A first meeting with an Employee can be a stressful moment for the Manager. It is usually even more so for the Employee! Getting to know each other helps cool off and allows everyone to present their experiences.
You can start by introducing yourself, explaining your professional background. Don’t hesitate to give some personal information: your age, if you are married, have children, what your hobbies are… Creating a feeling of intimacy allows for a relaxed discussion and subsequently, an easier relationship. Managers should not be elusive: their Employees must know them a minimum on a personal level to make them more human.
It takes two to get to know each other. By letting your Employees introduce themselves, you will be able to understand who they are, what their background is and discover their personality.
At the end of this first part, the balance of power between the Manager and the Employee has calmed down: at this stage it is a discussion between two people who do not know each other and are getting to know each other, no more, no less.
Step #2: Talk about the present.
Once introductions made, it is time to enter the more professional part of the interview. To address the future or the long term, it is often easier to start with the present.
If you are taking over an existing team, it is essential to know what each member does on a daily basis. You can ask them to explain their current role, focusing on their likes and dislikes. Of course, the expression of their feelings will be subjective. But by creating an emotional connection and allowing your Employee to do so without judgment, you will create a healthy working relationship.
Also, asking them what changes they think would improve their working conditions or productivity will help you take the temperature. In addition, you will collect ideas directly from the operational staff to build your action plan for the team: a change is always better accepted when the team is at the source of it.
When new Employees join your team, the process remains the same. You can ask them what made them leave their former job and join your company, or your team, or accept the position. It is also an opportunity to manage expectations and make sure there is no latent frustration. In which case, it’s better to manage them now than later.
Step #3: Look ahead.
As a Manager, one of your main objectives is to develop your Employees and help them grow. As such, it is important to consider the future from the start of the relationship. This is what will enable you to set up the most appropriate development plan for your Employee and to manage your capacity planning.
You can ask your Employees what their aspirations are in the short, medium and long term. Ask them if they have already implemented actions to achieve their goals. This discussion will lay the groundwork for building trust in your relationship.
From a more operational point of view, it will also help you identify your Employees’ reasoning and projection skills, and their ability to envision the future and build it. It will also allow you to assess the adequacy between their objectives and their current situation. You will thus be able to plan your coaching/mentoring efforts and envisage the necessary training plans.
Step #4: Build the relationship.
After getting to know each other and discussing professional matters, it is time to return to more personal aspects. The relationship between a Manager and an Employee is above all a relationship between two human beings. As such, it must rest on clear and solid foundations.
You can continue by presenting what you expect from your Employees. You can do this by stating the values you believe in, how you operate and what your limits are. It is important that things are clear from the start and that your Employees know what is important to you and what is a red line that should not be crossed.
Similarly, it is essential for you to build a balanced relationship. So, also ask them what they expect from you as a Manager, what their values are and what their own red lines are.
At the end of this part of the interview, you will both have a better vision of the expectations you may have of this relationship, you will have laid the foundations and you will have initiated the mutual trust necessary for this relationship.
Step #5: Conclude.
It is now time to conclude. You can start by giving your high-level vision for the team and the position of your Employee and formulate a short and precise summary of the discussion. It is also important to explain what the next steps are and set them in time.
Finally, to end the interview, it is essential to ask the Employee if he or she has any questions and, if so, to answer them.
Finally, the conclusion is to thank the Employee for the discussion!
I usually use this framework for one-to-one meetings in my professional life. I am usually really happy with the results and the relationships I am able to build with my collaborators.
And you? What is your process?