Being a new-in-post library manager, one of the things I wanted to consider in our team was communication. Having been away from the workplace for 10 months on maternity leave, I felt out of touch with the team dynamic and wanted a way to reconnect with my team mates. I was aware that there were likely to be lots of changes in processes and projects that I needed to quickly get up to speed on.
I scheduled a one-to-one meeting with each member of the team, as a way of helping me navigate my way back into ‘work mode’. I had anticipated that these would be one-off meetings, that I’d collect a snapshot of information from each team member and thus create an overview of the current projects underway, any key concerns, and any personal development needs. However, it would soon become obvious that I had underestimated the power of the one-to-one…
Around the same time, I attended a Moving into Management residential course facilitated by Deborah Dalley. Deborah spoke fervently about the value of the one-to-one, and its usefulness in connecting with team members, monitoring performance and offering protected time to discuss concerns. She suggested setting objectives for each one-to-one; considering what you want to achieve by the end of the meeting. Even more importantly, she emphasised how the one-to-one meeting has benefits for both parties. While I was hoping that a one-to-one would help my understanding, I hadn’t anticipated the value of the one-to-one from the other person’s point of view. It was an opportunity for that person to talk about their current workload and priorities, to ask questions, to suggest ideas and to be listened to. It was a way for two people in the team to establish rapport and trust. It was a place that service direction and strategic objectives could be clarified and understood.
Back at work, I scheduled regular one-to-ones with all team members for the next 4 months. Now, a few weeks later, the mutual benefits of my regular one-to-ones are beginning to emerge. I’ve found that I was able to get up to speed with current issues which helped me to map out service priorities for the next 12 months. I’ve been able to re-engage with my colleagues and have had extremely valuable discussions about their developmental needs. Several bright ideas have been suggested in one-to-ones that we’ve implemented, such as sending out an induction email when someone joins to the library to confirm their membership and signpost them to our website. We’ve also started having a weekly ‘team huddle’ after one-to-ones with part time team members identified a gap in communication.
The benefits to me as a manager are clear, and the service benefits are beginning to emerge. My next step is to ask for feedback from the team; that’s something I hope to do over the next few weeks. I’d love to continue the regular, scheduled one-to-ones on a permanent basis, and I hope that they’ll continue to be as productive and valuable as they have been so far.
Victoria Treadway, Library & Knowledge Service Manager, Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust