Fireside Chats – Formal 1:1’s

Fireside Chats – Formal 1:1’s

A misunderstood performance management tool is formal one to ones or what I call Fireside Chats.

Whenever I ask clients if they have formal one to ones with their manager the most common answer is “no”.

In most cases their formal one to one’s in their mind are mid and full year performance reviews.

These are not formal Fireside Chats!

A Fireside Chat is a scheduled, monthly meeting between an employee and their manager.

The meeting has consistent structure, timing, format and purpose.

Fireside Chats are by far the most effective performance management tool that I have ever used.

Fireside Chat Purpose:

  • A clear investment to help support and develop employees
  • Step out of the day to day and look at performance and development at a higher level
  • Provide a safe forum for positive and purposeful discussion
  • Builds a better understanding of expectations
    • Is what you think is good performance the same as what your manager sees as good performance?
  • Forum for a manager and employee to get on the same page
    • Ensures you are focusing on what both you and your manager believes is important.
  • Highlight and gain alignment on what strong performance and positive behaviours were accomplished since the last Fireside Chat
  • Identifies areas for development and puts a specific action plan in place
    • Agreement on the few things that the employee will work on over the next month.
    • Addresses performance issues immediately and not waiting for mid or full year reviews
  • A tool to be used at all levels of an organization

Fireside Chat Results:

  • Accelerates employee performance and development
  • Increases employee engagement
  • Increased performance management capabilities
  • Simplified performance reviews
  • Identifies business issues that need to be addressed at a higher level
  • More robust employee files for new people managers

There are great people managers using this process but in order for it to be really impactful it needs to be part of a company’s culture.

I have heard lots of reasons why some companies don’t commit to the process.

“We have too many vacancies and we can’t introduce something new.”

“There has been too much change already.”

“I have too many direct reports and I don’t have the time to do all that work.”

All short term excuses for not investing in your people.

In an ideal situation an employee and manager should have 10-12 1/hr. Fireside Chats a year.

However, due to some of the reasons stated above maybe they only get 5-8 in a year.

That is better than not having any formal one to ones at all.

The process does take commitment by both the employee and the manager but the benefits clearly outweigh the time required.



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