I. M. Wright: “One to one and many to many”

Greetings. Today we’d like to post the podcast for this month’s I. M. Wright blog post: “One to one and many to many.”

You can get the podcast here.

Here’s how the post and podcast (10 minutes 1 second) begins:

Does the prospect of a one-on-one with your manager make you energized or anxious? Are your morale events packed with peers or attended only by slackers and scandal spreaders? Chances are one-on-ones are at best bearable for you and morale events are rare, wasteful, or both.

Wasting one-on-one time and morale events is inexcusable. It takes what could be the most valuable time of your week or month and turns it into redundant, useless, and pathetic time-sucking, cash-burning, work-interrupting guilt trips ("Shouldn't I be enjoying this?!?"). Is there anything you can do about it? Yes, there is. Have your manager read this column, because it's all your manager's fault.

Am I speaking to your manager now? Good. Hi, manager. You stink. You're not using one-on-ones and morale events properly. It's all your fault. Only you can fix it. However, all is not lost. Fixing one-on-ones and morale events is simple, inexpensive, and can turn a collective time furnace into one of your greatest tools for team improvement.

A deeper purpose

Let's start with understanding the true purpose of one-on-ones and morale events. One-on-ones are not for status updates. You get status through charting and status meetings. Morale events are not for manipulating people into believing they are valued. People believe they are valued when you actually value them through trust, guidance, and personal acknowledgement.

What is the true purpose of one-on-ones? To develop strong trust relationships with your staff and get to know them on a personal level. Management is all about effective delegation, which is all about trust. Trust comes from mutual respect and understanding, which comes from knowing each other as human beings and nurturing a relationship. You also need integrity, which is necessary for nearly everything of value.

What is the true purpose of morale events? To break down barriers between people and teams by humanizing them to each other. People working together inevitably creates conflict. A business environment tends to dehumanize people, which fuels conflict. You hear phrases like, "They don't care" and "He's an idiot." By taking people out of the business environment to interact in fresh ways, you put human faces to former pronouns and create relationships that lead to improved collaboration and understanding.

Now you know the purpose of one-on-ones and morale events. Next, let's talk about how to run them effectively, starting with one-on-ones.

 I. M. Wright’s “Hard Code,” by Eric Brechner (Microsoft Press, 2008), includes 49 “Hard Code” columns and numerous Eric Asides explaining Microsoft terms, providing updates, and conveying additional context. Eric Brechner is Director of Development Excellence in Microsoft’s Engineering Excellence group. By the way, the chapter referred to in this podcast is Chapter 9, “Being a Manager, and Yet Not Evil Incarnate.”


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