The MT newsletter today got me thinking about a struggle I have when writing notes in my 1-1s with directs.

During 1-1s I sit at a small table with the direct.  If I lay the 1-1 sheet on the table in front of me, it's not difficult for them to see everything I'm writing down.  That's not usually a problem, except when their performance is dropping and I need to note the steps I'm taking now, and the steps I am planning to take in the coming weeks if things don't improve.  

How do others of you in the MT community handle this problem?

nbest's picture

I use a similar setup in my 1-1 meetings with the small table and my note sheet in front of me where they can see. My thought would be that if you're currently taking steps, wouldn't they know about those steps, hence negating the risk of them seeing you writing them down? Generally, I would also review my notes after each meeting has ended (or later in the day) and make any notes of future actions I may want to take etc. That way, they never see those notes. Hope that helps.

uninet22's picture

Yep, that's what I've been doing for the most part.  However, sometimes I want to capture specific things they say, or behaviors I observe, and it can be hard to remember all of it and write it down later, especially for directs who are heading into late-stage coaching.  And it's nothing derogatory towards them, but if they realize that I'm writing down their words and behaviors, I imagine they will become more guarded in these meetings.  But who knows, maybe that's a good thing?

I can certainly pull the folder onto my lap, which angles it away from them.  but if they're moderately observant, they'll notice that I haven't done that in the past, and only started doing it during the coaching process.  

Maybe that's the answer to the whole issue - I should always have my folder on my lap and take notes that way for every direct, all the time.  It's just that my handwriting is not very good to begin with, and it gets worse in those conditions.  But of course, we get paid to do what's effective, not what comes easy to us, right?

nbest's picture

I think you want to stay away from seeming like you're hiding something. When I first started my meetings, I explained that I just wanted to write down action items and things I would want to remember so I can review them later. If you're upfront about that, I think people are a lot less suspicious of you taking notes. Also, as your relationship with the direct improves, the suspicion lessen even more.

ResearchRaccoon's picture

If they are in coaching, they should know that you are paying attention to their words and behaviors. Professionals take care in choosing the words and behaviors that are appropriate for the setting, and a failure to do so can lead to coaching in an attempt to get them to do so appropriately. If you are finding something notable about what they are saying and doing, then you can help them by letting them know. Most employees know they are being observed by their boss, this is no secret, so I see no reason to hide the fact that you are "writing down their words and behaviors." You express concern that they would be more guarded, but what is the real concern here? It might mean that they consider their words and behaviors before taking action, as most employees in a corporate environment should do. If you are racking up ammunition to spring some bad news on them at a later time, that's pretty mean-spirited.

I would think you should:

1. Note the words and behaviors you find noteworthy, and do so in a manner in which it can be seen if the employee is interested. It may even be worthwhile to discuss with them at the time WHY those words or behaviors are problematic/noteworthy, so that they have the opportunity to consider and address your feedback going forward. Most employees WANT to do better, and it's your job to let them know HOW that can happen. If you don't, how can you expect them to read your mind about what you find problematic?

2. Continue taking notes. If they continue to speak or behave poorly, this is valuable data for them that can either help them to realize that they aren't successfully addressing it, or that they may think back on and realize their mistakes after they are let go. If it comes to letting them go, then you have a backlog of things they said and did PLUS a record of your timely feedback to address those issues.