It was pretty clear to me that my top focus as a leader is on people development; and 1:1s being the most intimate chats that I'll have with devs, I'll use that space to coach them, so they can perform at their best and improve further.
Setting up a safe space
A safe space with trust, no judgments, open and candid - completely focused on how to support devs. The first 1:1 is an open conversation about the fact that, at some point they're going leave the organisation, but what would they like to accomplish in between? Let's work on your long-term career goals and see where it takes you. I learned this from Erran Berger's interview about Technical Leadership. This is such a powerful chat, because it's considered to be a taboo, that as a leader, I have to hold onto my employees and if I ever discuss their eventual departure from the Organisation, it'll spark this idea in their minds that maybe they should. The reality however, is that people are always thinking about their career and applying for better jobs. So let's have an open conversation about this.
Another practice I have developed to establish openness, is a disclaimer that anything we discuss in these 1:1s will have 0 impact on their performance reviews, which opens up an honest feedback loop both ways.
What does it achieve?
Firstly, I'm doing this because I'm invested in their growth and that's all that matters. Secondly, after this chat, I feel they see this as well, which creates a sense of trust and openness. I think this makes my job as a leader easier.
In the next article I'll write about prompts I use to make the most out these sessions.
Hint : It's not 'How's it going?'
Question for readers
How do you establish trust as a leader?