Leadership and Management

Do you know your directs context?

Whether you are new to 1-on-1s or have been running them for a while, at certain times you and your directs will become misaligned and the topics they bring up might come as a surprise to you.

The better understanding you have of your directs context, the better prepared you are, or at least can be, for supporting them. Your support can of course come in many different forms e.g. through feedback, by challenging, partnering, mentoring, and coaching, etc., but understanding their context is the first step.

With that said, you are aiming for a delicate balance. While knowing everything and never being surprised might mean that you are spending too much time on one direct, or that you are not challenging your directs enough, constantly being surprised could mean that your directs lives in a world you do not see.

This Tip of the Week contains a method to discover the discrepancy between your perception of your directs context and their reality. Before going in to your next 1-on-1 with your directs, take 5 minutes and answer the following two questions.

  1. What do I think my direct will bring up today?
  2. Why do I think my direct will bring this up?

After the 1-on-1, compare the notes you took with your answers to the questions. This will give you a hint to whether you understand your directs reality. If most of what you wrote down matches what your directs brought up – awesome! If you on the other hand wrote down completely different topics, you have a discrepancy and an opportunity to fix that. You might not be aware of things your directs are struggling with, or your directs might not have realized the urgency of specific topics that you have brought up in the past.

So try it out and let me know how it goes. If you make any alterations to the questions, please comment and share – you might help someone else in a similar situation.

This tool can also be helpful to discover how well aligned you are with your manager. Just change direct to manager when answering the questions.

WTF is Tip of the Week?
Tip of the Week is an email containing tools that we, the friendly neighborhood agile coaches in the I/O tribe at Spotify, believe will be helpful in the daily life of the people in I/O. Some topics are direct requests and others are ones we are just passionate about. We take turns and this week I sent the out the tip.

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