5 Reasons to Spend Individual Time With Your Employees

Oct 5, 2009, Written by Sue Miley

I have several consulting clients, Christian Business Owners, who wonder how they can find time to eat lunch today, much less read all of their emails, and take care of their to do list.  The reason we hire employees is to give us more time.  We are hoping that we can turn them loose and the productivity of our business increases exponentially.  Is it working that way for your business?  Does your business become better, stronger, and faster when you add a new position? Do you have more time to work on your business now? I do believe employees can improve productivity, provide resources for growth, and even free up some of the owner’s time.  I think that we have to face up to the big trade-off though:  We need to spend time with our employees for them to be able to add value. Let’s discuss some really good reasons to spend time with your employees:

Build Good Relationships

“…Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others…” –Philippians 2:3-4

Face it- people work for people.  If they don’t know you they will not become attached to you and loyalty will always be secondary to self-promotion and self-protection.  The better you know your employees the more effective you will be in motivating, training, and employing them productively. By building rapport with your employees you:

  • Communicate that they are important to you – you are not just giving lip service to “people are our greatest asset”.
  • Open the door to employees feeling comfortable serving up new ideas or letting you know about potential problems.
  • Better understand the potential of your team.  Hopefully they share personal dreams and professional development goals.

Improve Accountability

I feel a much stronger sense of accountability if I have to look into the eyes of a disappointed boss than if I just have to mention the shortfall or issue in my weekly report.  Don’t you?  To really set the bar with our people they need to know that if they have a big win the boss cares enough to personally congratulate them.  That you truly appreciate their effort and accomplishment.  I know a small business owner who rarely met with their employees one on one.  The company had targets and goals but if they hit them, no one called.  If they missed them no one called.  Pretty soon the company had a team of people actively visiting Facebook, internet surfing, and actually ducking clients.  They didn’t have to regularly look the owner in the eyes and say “I am sorry I didn’t follow-up as we agreed last week and I don’t have a good excuse”.

We battle with the disengaged employee, so let’s engage them.  Let’s meet with them on a regular basis to set the bar, celebrate the win, and to express disappointment in lack of effort or dedication.  If the employee knows they will be asked face to face “how did things go this week” every week, they are much more likely to want to have a positive report.

Take Advantage of Opportunities

Opportunities can be defined in many ways:

  • Eliminating or overcoming barriers
  • New programs or projects
  • Enhancing current opportunities

The best way to find out about opportunities is through direct discussion with people.  We play off of each other.  I always find a new idea, thought, and/or direction during conversations.  Two people can come into a conversation with individual thoughts that morph before them through brainstorming and dialogue.  You get only a fraction of this through reports or third party messages.  Even more important is the speed in which opportunities can be approached.  In a conversation, if a new idea is birthed you can immediately move to action steps.  What can the employee go and do right now to seize the moment.

How Can You Create a Culture Without You?

Well, I guess a definite culture will be created if you are never interacting directly with your employees, but what a terrible culture that would be.  Jesus spent most of his time with his disciples. He told them to leave whatever they were doing and “follow Him”.  I think Jesus was well aware that the disciples would not truly “get it” if He was not talking to them daily, showing them by example, and setting the culture of His ministry.  Through following Him Jesus taught the disciples about obeying the Father, ministering to everyone, that He fought for the underdog, and that legalism wouldn’t cut it.  He created a culture of grace and mercy; of hard work and rest; of interacting directly with people.

What culture do you want in your business and do your employees embody it?  If not, why not?

Don’t Hand Down Bad Habits

If all of your employees

  • only see the back of you as your door is shutting.
  • never receive timely or direct responses on their questions or requests
  • feel you don’t value their work or contribution

how will their habits shape over time?  If you are running around like a chicken with your head cutoff, not delegating, and not holding people accountable you are handing down your own bad habits.  Think about how you spend your time.  Are you efficient?  Are you managing your time efficiently and effectively?  If not, and you have employees, you are seeding these same bad habits in your team.  If this is the case, when you add a position are you volumetrically enhancing the depth and breadth of your team or growing a web of ineffectiveness, lack of accountability, and disengagement.

If people are our most important assets, then spending time one-on-one with your employees is a wise investment!  What other benefits do you see in making this investment?

Reader Interactions


  1. James says

    Great points! It is difficult at times in a small business to make time for one on one opportunities with employees, but it should be done regularly. For me, the challenge is having the discipline to create those one on one times with regularity…

  2. Holly Rabalais says

    Sue, I agree with this wholeheartedly! I think the first step is to get to know our colleagues. While it’s important to know their strengths, investing time in really knowing who they are (what are their passions, what kind of balance do they have between work and home, what keeps them motivated, what time of the day are they most productive) is what builds respect and loyalty. The key is letting them know that you care but also reminding them that the work must get done.

    By the way…the first part of building relationships with your people is knowing yourself inside and out.

  3. Debbie Ipson says

    It is not only essential to show your employees that they are valued as a important part of the big picture, but also critical that they UNDERSTAND the goals. Too often it is assumed that the goals are clear to your employees. The only way to know if they “get” it is to spend one on one time with them. Employees want to feel as if they make a difference.
    Input needs not to be just dismissed. Success is achieved by the “team” effort.

  4. James says

    That’s a good idea Sue… In fact, after reading this article the other day, I took inventory of my time and how I’d like to spend it at work. I already have some weekly meetings with key groups, but I’m now setting aside some additional hours dedicated to 1-1 meetings. My initial thought was to initiate the meeings myself, but after your last post, I think I will “advertise” this time to my staff so they can initiate as well.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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