Episode 60

Leader One-on-Ones - Trillion Dollar Coach Series - Chapter 2 Part 3

Published on: 18th April, 2022

Today we continue our series on The Trillion Dollar Coach with Part 3 of Chapter 2 which is all about one-on-ones.

Bill Campbell brought his own unique flair to coaching his team and rooted it in solid leadership foundations that we will discuss today.

We discuss a few thoughts and ideas around how to improve your own 1:1 effectiveness which center mostly around consistency and preparation. No single one-on-one will be life-changing, but the frequency of these relationship investments will compound over time. You will also get a 10x return on the time you invest preparing for the one-on-one which will lead to faster growth of your team.

For more information, visit our website at Wanna Grab Coffee? website or send us an email at [email protected].


Robert Greiner 0:04

Okay, we're recording. This is episode 60. big milestone. Zero. Yeah, well done 40 more to hit 100, which we'll probably do this year.

Igor Geyfman 0:15

I'm gonna refrain from using power tools. They're my microphone, but I can't make that a guarantee for the rest of this episode. It's just too much fun.

Robert Greiner 0:23

So you you've just moved into a new house and you have this drill, and now you're just fidgeting with it. Yeah, yeah.

Igor Geyfman 0:31

Well, it just happened to be sitting on my desk because I was doing stuff around the office and I you know, I installed some things that man, I'm just like, Man, this kind of a great fidget toy. There's something very satisfying about hitting the trigger on the drill and hearing a little Yeah, sound.

Robert Greiner 0:46

Maybe you could install your microphone, so you quit talking to the air pods.

Igor Geyfman 0:53

I, here's the issue that I have Robert. I don't have anything to mount the microphone stand to everything in my office, my desk. My drawers. They're too thick for like the, the mount, you know, because the mount only probably except two inches tall. And everything is just too chunky to be mounted. And so that's my problem. Otherwise, I would have had it set up right away. But

Charles Knight 1:18

Igor didn't you send me didn't you give me one of those weighted? Or was that you Robert?

Igor Geyfman 1:23

Yeah. I think it's up at the office.

Robert Greiner 1:25

Oh, yeah, I gave you I gave you the weighted one. But you were as the same one that.

Charles Knight 1:29

Ah Okay.

Robert Greiner 1:30

He loaned me with a USB mic, so I could record some stuff from our office, and then it's still up there.

Charles Knight 1:36

I see. Yeah.

Robert Greiner 1:37

This won't be a problem when we get the studio going.

Charles Knight 1:40

When is that:

Igor Geyfman 1:42

That's true. We can get started on that this year. I feel like

Robert Greiner 1:46

We have all the equipment we need. Yeah, we just need space.

Charles Knight 1:49

Igor, you just got a new house. Just make sure that there's a little studio space there. Yeah,

Robert Greiner 1:53


Igor Geyfman 1:55

I got the garage man. You know, I'm only putting one car in there. And so half the garage is reserved for some sort of shop space. And I'm sure we can put some acoustic paneling and stuff around. Garages usually don't have windows, but it actually has a nice little window. Looking at it.

Robert Greiner 2:15

Awesome. We're set we'll be right over

Igor Geyfman 2:17

Maybe that's a, at least we can use that as a temporary space. Yeah. It's not very close for Robert. But I think Charles you and I were only like by 10 minutes apart. Yeah.

Robert Greiner 2:27

Nice. Oh, yeah. Because you moved in proximity to how much he liked us. I think I remember. The house next to me was for sale for a long time.

Igor Geyfman 2:38

I technically moved like half an hour towards both of you.

Robert Greiner 2:38

Okay, now we'll take it. We'll take it.

Igor Geyfman 2:44

Yeah, you're just relatively still far away. Robert.

Robert Greiner 2:47

Speaking of far away, the end of this chapter is I don't know how many. I don't know how many parts to this chapter, we're going to have but we are in part three of chapter two. Yeah.

Igor Geyfman 2:59

It's one on ones that we decided to talk about right.

Robert Greiner 3:02

Yeah, pretty excited. We're over halfway there. So we may be able to round it up today. But still in the chapter of Trillion Dollar Coach, which is a great book about the leadership styles of Bill Campbell. The title is your title makes you a manager, your people make you a leader. So we've had some really good discussions up until now around peer relationships, building trust with the team, Charles had a great quote around gaining or losing share within interactions. Bill Campbell says your people affirm whether or not you're a leader, you don't affirm that. And so we are just going in order through the chapter and trying to distill the nuggets of wisdom here and chat about them and incorporate them into our own personal professional lives. And yep, today we're on one on ones, which we take very seriously. So this, I would say, is an area we have quite a bit of experience in. And it starts off talking about five words on a whiteboard. So what did y'all think about this section and how Bill Campbell chose to work one on ones with work individually with these really high powered executives one on one? Well, Robert

Igor Geyfman 4:04

Can give a little background on five words on a whiteboard. Before we jump into that.

Robert Greiner 4:09

Yeah, so it was kind of interesting too so Bill Campbell had an office in Palo Alto. So again, he was executive coach to several of the world's largest technology companies. And to the people. He coached that they talk a little bit about the differences of Bill style are Eric Schmidt, who was CEO of Google at the time. And then Jonathan Rosenberg, who was also an executive at Google. And one of the interesting things is Bill made them come to his office, which is kind of crazy. If you think about, you know, forcing the CEO of Google to come to you. That's kind of interesting. But when they walked in to the room, so for Eric, Bill would have five words written on a whiteboard. And those are the top five items that they were to talk about that day for Jonathan, though, there were still the five words, but Bill did not write them on the whiteboard. Bill asked Jonathan for his five topics. And it was kind of really interesting, like very subtle, stylistic change. So we talked a lot about adapting your coaching style to the needs of the person being coached, right, not to your preferences. And you know, Eric, at the time, had run companies before Eric was brought into Google to be the adult in the room. Bill didn't need to figure out with Eric, if he was thinking about the right things, Eric was already thinking about the right things. And so Bill, put his five on, just help anchor and direct the discussion. But for Jonathan, who's a little bit more junior Bill wanted to one to not, have Jonathan just come in and agree with what was on the board. But wanted to see what Jonathan was thinking about and what is thought process was and, and kind of, we use that as part of the coaching. And so it was kind of interesting, subtle discrepancy where the five topic items for the discussion remained the same, but how they came about settling on those items were were different for different people.

Igor Geyfman 6:13

Yeah. And I think that you're just that part of the method just talks to the intentionality that's put behind successful one on ones because, you know, Bill, and whoever he was having his one on ones with, couldn't just show up, you know, like they, someone in some part of the equation, had given thought to those five things before the one on one started. And so I thought that was pretty cool.

Robert Greiner 6:39

Yep. And he took a lot of Bill spent a lot of time preparing for those meetings. So if you sort of continue that idea through around, the most important thing a manager does is to help people be more effective and to grow and develop. one on ones is one of the most powerful ways to do that. And so Bill took that very seriously. And it's also nice to know that you walk in, there's a couple items on the agenda, that are pre thought out it, it also shows that you're thinking deeply about the other person's development, and growth and well being.

Igor Geyfman 7:12

Yeah. Robert? Oh, go ahead, Charles. Yeah,

Charles Knight 7:16

I was just gonna say I like the simplicity of the advice here, you know, have a structure to your one on ones. Whether it's five words, or I know, we've talked about, I think Manager Tools, one on one, structure works really great, too. Probably doesn't matter, as long as you've got it. I think the piece that stands out to me, though, was taking that time to prepare. And I was gonna ask you all, what does that look like for you? Like, how much time do you take to prepare for one on ones? And for me? I don't know. I think it depends on the person. In some relationships, one on one. You know, I feel like I adapt more to the, to the style in terms of how formal or informal we are. But I always have something. And sometimes it's, Hey, right. Before I go into the meeting, I'm thinking about what I want to talk about. Very rarely, though, and maybe this is shame on me. I don't know if I plan this out a week in advance, for example, and I don't think it says anything in here about what Bill did to prepare, correct me if I'm wrong. But I really do wonder, like, how much time and what did that look like? For for Bill to prepare for each of these one on ones that he had every week?

Robert Greiner 8:34

Good questions, I was actually had forgotten to bring this up. So I'm glad you asked historically, I prepared for one on ones very poorly, really said differently. Not at all, I would take notes occasionally. And so I would sometimes have the presence of mind to and usually written down in my notebook. Because I don't like to have technology, you know, sort of between me and the person I'm talking to. And so if I had enough foresight, I will flip to the page. But it was it was pretty ad hoc. And I would constantly sort of need to be reminded of what we talked about. And it was not super effective. What I do now, though, is I use an app called Fellow that's very good. And it's free for up to 10 people. And so actually, I'm going to pull up the app right now. But you put your team in. And it integrates with your calendar. And so it knows the app knows when you're having like a one on one meeting with a person that's on your team, because their email, they register as well, their email addresses in there. And there's an agenda card that gets created each time you meet. And you can put talking points there and action items. And then there's a note pad, and then an area for private notes that the person that no one else sees, but you and they can pop up every time. There are suggested topics. There's feedback, there's priorities. And so you can actually really get a lot of documentation in this tool. But the the best part is the fleeting thoughts you have in the moment. But we need to talk about extensions that came up in a completely separate meeting this morning. I had Fellow open already, I just clicked on each person added a talking point bullet, to talk about extensions. And now I don't have to think about it anymore. But also, the person that I'm meeting with can has access to Fellow as well, they can add stuff. And so I'll see things pop up, that someone on my team added, and then we know to talk about it. And so that's been a really nice boost. Because what I was relying on before is essentially, I'm going to use this time to build a relationship with you. And we're going to roughly cover everything we need to because if it's actionable or really important, then it'll get triaged or whatever. So just you meeting with your team every week, like good things are gonna happen, almost by default, but you can be you can add layers of effectiveness to those discussions. And I think a lot of that effectiveness is understanding that the one on ones are compounding growth over time, like no one on one is going to be life changing and dramatic and move everybody forward three feet, it's a bunch of little incremental shifts forward. And so if you can be more effective on each one, that compounding effect, has a much better, longer range. And so that's been good for me. I don't know what I'm going to do, though, when we're sort of back in person because I like the app, maybe I'll have it on on my phone or put it up on the projector. I don't, I wouldn't want to have the laptop up while we're talking. So that's got to be something that I'll solve. But Fellow has been a good sort of addition to my one on one repertoire.

Charles Knight:

Is that like a real time collaboration tool where you can both have it up and see each other type? Or is it? Is it not real time?

Robert Greiner:

I don't know that I can see you typing. But if you added a bullet, I would see the bullet right away. And then as soon as you update it, like I see it. So it's about it's very close to real time.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Yeah. That's cool. That's awesome. I never heard about that.

Robert Greiner:

But that's the because I'm not wired to be sort of detail oriented and formal. And so this adds just enough. And you have the historical context there as well. So I can scroll through, or if we don't talk about, you talk about a topic, and then you check it off. When the new card gets created, like at forward carries stuff through, I can assign stuff to me or to you within the scope of the meeting. So it's really nice to kind of stays out of your way. So it's not like a formal performance management system. It's really meant to be to help with effective meetings. And, and so it has, I would say, given me a step function increase in my one on one effectiveness. And so if you can bring the coaching and the relationship building in as well, but you're actually kind of carrying that progress forward. I think that's a that's a good recipe for success.

Charles Knight:

Thanks for sharing. Robert, can I go I know you're gonna say something, can I share something that I got over the weekend? That's kind of related. Robert, you, you were talking about how these one on ones are? Cumulative, or they compound week over week. So that's what made me think about this. So my birthday was last week. And I got a letter in the mail, from a person who I had weekly one on ones with for quite some time, like a good portion of maybe a year. And yeah, I do a lot of thought leadership coaching in our company. And this was this was somebody who was, who was part of that. And they just wrote me a really nice, happy birthday card. And, and they mentioned how appreciative they were about those weekly one on ones, but they don't call them one on ones. But the highlight a lot of things that I think I've learned along the way, maybe through role modeling, you know my team leads or my mentors and things like that. Maybe Manager Tools? certainly did. Some of this stuff resonates with what we're talking about here. But, you know, I'll read a couple of things.

Robert Greiner:

And just just to make sure I understood you, this is someone that you coached.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, somebody I could no longer with, say, with a firm, who was just reflecting back on and saying, You know what, I learned a ton. And they listed out a couple of things.

Robert Greiner:

That's great. Yeah, let's hear it.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, hey, we didn't just talk about work. You know, and because of that, like the lessons and ideas that you gave me have made me more well rounded and thoughtful, even in my own personal life. And in regards to well being, which, you know, we've talked about here. So that's a big part of what I think about. And I always had a nice gentle reminder that we're all human beings, and that it's okay to get stressed and overwhelmed I don't know, this was a really meaningful, thoughtful thing that was just, it was a phenomenal birthday gift. And I'm certainly not sharing to say, Hey, look at me, I'm a great coach. But it when you talked about that these things compound, it totally hit me that that's what this was, you know, it's not like I had one conversation that changed, you know, the way that this person thought about, you know, well being or thought leadership, it was the cumulative effect of these weekly conversations that, you know, created the environment where, you know, learning took place, and insights were made on both sides. You know, that's the, that's a great thing. I don't know if they talked about this in, in the book or in this chapter. But I learned a lot from this person, too. You know, this is not like me and imparting wisdom, one way. There's a lot of bi directional learning happening. And I bet Bill would agree with that, even though it doesn't talk about that explicitly in the, in the in the book here. But anyway, that I don't know, I'm just really touched. Man, I'm glad I have this. And I want to keep this up close to me as a reminder that, you know, these one on ones, even if an individual one on one seems inconsequential, they add up. Right. And I mean, a lot. They mean a lot to the other person. And it's how we that's how we make an impact.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah. Oh, man. That's great. That's great. The incremental progress made over a year. That's, that's pretty cool.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. Yeah, we're not in the business of curing cancer, right. So we're not going to have this like, amazing breakthrough with people on our teams, it's, it's going to be through these. Now, I would say primarily through these one on ones where the impact that we want to make on other people is really done.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, well, and how much of our day to day when we're interacting with other people, whether it's peers, directs, bosses, clients, customers, whatever their relationship or the interaction is transactional. And so I, I liked the nugget in there around, we didn't just talk about work, we've talked about this, hundreds of times, I'm sure the integration between work and life is there's a lot of overlap there. And so by helping someone realize their potential at work, you are affecting them personally. And by bringing in the personal into work in an appropriate way. You're keeping the conversation, the interaction from being transactional. And so you have to, you have to kind of have both of those angles. And when you do that, over time, in a balanced way, again, if we're talking about recipes for success, you know, if you're, if you're meeting with your team regularly, and you're talking about work, and you're leaving room open for personal discussions, that's great, like good things are gonna happen. Yeah, because you're investing in positive things. Here that we've talked about some ways to ratchet up the effectiveness of those one on ones through preparation, right, you'll get a tenfold increase on effectiveness with for every minute that you spend preparing, right, and it doesn't take a ton of time. I mean, Bill Campbell, I'm sure it was very busy. He found the time to do this. And then he had great results from it. And so these little tweaks, as a leader will increase your chances of impacting someone's life, in the way that you just talked about here, where they think about you on your birthday and send you a and send you a nice note. So that's, that's really cool. Yeah.

Charles Knight:

Thanks for let me share that. Yeah, man,

Robert Greiner:

Thanks for sharing. That's, I'm thrilled. Like, what a what a great thing to have happen.

Charles Knight:

Yeah, um, it's such a huge energy boost, you know, I mean, it just gives me like a kick in the pants to just keep going, you know, even though it's, it gets hard sometimes and you don't necessarily see the progress or the or get the feedback that things are helpful are going well in your coaching relationships. And so it's just really nice to get a thank you like this and an acknowledgement, every now and then

Robert Greiner:

The guidance in the book, have a structure for your one on ones. The Manager Tool is one that we recommended before reference to before they kind of have it split up into 10 minute chunks, that 30 minute meeting. So 10 minutes for whatever the direct ones to talk about. You always let the other person go first 10 minutes for you, mostly to talk about project stuff. 10 minutes for coaching. If there's no specific coaching thing that you're working on, you can go 15/15 They have some great podcasts on it. So if you just did what they said, You'll be great. If you meet regularly though, and you talk about careers, like we said, you're going to have success there. It's just a matter of how much so take some time to prepare what they say also, that the book says and we agree, one on ones are the best way to help people be more effective and to grow. And then in your framework in your preparation. There should be are small sort of stuff room for personal stuff, you don't have to force that. Right? Some people that you work with will just be more interested in the projects and getting things done or where they're at in their, their career or if it's a busy time. So it doesn't have to be that way. But there needs to be room for the the personal side. And then the book has some really good sort of framework ideas for performance, sort of on job requirements. So sales figures, delivery milestones, product quality, feedback, budget numbers, how your relationships with your peer groups are going that's one thing we talked about last time that gets ignored. It's sort of on the backburner or not considered at all. But how are you doing with your peer group? Management Leadership? So coaching guiding your people? Are you giving proper feedback to folks that are underperforming? Who's working hard? Who needs more opportunity? And then there's a slot for innovation best practices? So how are you moving ahead thinking about how to get better? are you evaluating new technologies, new products, new practices? How are you measuring yourself those kinds of things? And so there's a pretty candless of questions. Like I said, before, fellow has some baked in there as well. There's one suggested topic, how do you feel about your current day to day work? It's not a mind blowing question there. But it's one that you might want to wield occasionally, and the right moment, right. And so you can refresh those answers lots of questions, having sort of a quiver of predefined questions that you ask from time to time could could be helpful as well, that way you're not caught flat footed. But yeah, I think those are hopefully some thoughts and ideas that will help you have more effective one on one's ego or any thoughts there?

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah, you know, one of the things that I think is important is this idea of also, you know, conforming to like the other person's style. And so I know for some of the one on ones that I do, I, when I start my series, I usually ask the person, you know, what they would prefer? Would they prefer the one on ones to be more conversational? Would they prefer to be more structured, you know, and I give them sort of, like templates, like on a buffet, and then I just tend to sort of stick to what they chose. And every once in a while, ask, Hey, do you want to sort of change this up? Or is any of this not working for you, and so on. So I think that that part's important is to make sure that, you know, the one the person that you're having a one on one with they're sort of getting the most out of out of the conversations that you're having. But also remember that, you know, the, you mentioned, both mentioned this, you know, one of the biggest parts of the one on one is not just sort of the functional things, it's it's like the relationship and connection. My thoughts on one on ones? They're awesome.

Charles Knight:

You know, I think that's, that would be an interesting thing to know is okay, how long? On average, were these coaching relationships that Bill had? Probably went on for years? And did he change the approach at all? Because I was thinking about this Igor, as you're talking us, you know, how do you start up coaching relationship, and you really do kind of have to open the kimono on both sides, and then kind of figure out a way of working that's going to, that's gonna fit people's styles and preferences. I remember when I started working with a third party executive coach, they they had a little survey, I guess, that asked, Hey, what kind of coach do you want? Do you want like a physical trainer? Who's gonna yell at you and push you and help you get stronger and healthier? Faster? Or? Or do you need, like the light and gentle touch? And, you know, that's, I don't think I bring that level of structure to figuring out, you know, for each of the people that I have one on ones with, what's the right style, but it is just, it does point to the importance of, you know, like you said, just discussing upfront, setting expectations, trying it out, and then checking in to see if things need to change or adjust, you know, based on life situation and work situation, and somebody had a bad day, today is not a good day to have a one on one. So maybe we should just reschedule and talk some other time, saying go take care of your kids that are at home because of the snow, for example. I like that Igor.

Igor Geyfman:

And I learned that the hard way because, you know, I just started one on ones and I would just sort of do them how I felt like it was really conversational. And I almost always start out my one on ones with the same phrase and it's, you know, how are you feeling today? You know, and it's and that phrase is not just there as a hello or anything like that. I really do want to know how they're playing, you know, to the extent that anybody wants to share that, but there was usually a conversation and over time, you know, we're doing these in person. So this is when I my style more is I noticed that some of my conversations just seemed more comfortable than others. And, and so for the folks that were uncomfortable, I started asking them, you know, not Hey, why are you uncomfortable during our one on ones, but I just started sort of poking around the edges of, you know, are you getting what you need out of these? And I want to make sure that, you know, is this something that you need more structure for? Would you like to sort of have some topics ahead of time. And so that's kind of what I meant by a buffet. But for the longest time, I just kind of did what felt most natural. And I just noticed that with about half the people that I was having conversations with, it was just not working for them, you know, and if it's not working for them, then it's not working for me, and I need to change the way that I do it. And it's not comfortable for me, right? Like, it's, I'd rather just come in, you know, conversation guns blazing. But I have to, you know, remind myself to be humble and say, this is part of your job. And it's not just because it's, you know, efficient and easy and fun for you like this, it needs to be efficient, easy and fun for your team, first of all, and because every one is different than you need to approach them differently, not everybody's gonna resonate with your, you know, sort of default style, whatever it is, and you can't expect your team to adapt to you, because you know, you're the leader, and you're the one that should have the maturity to to adapt. But it took it took me a while of sort of sensing discomfort and wanting to resolve that that friction, if that makes sense.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, I had a similar feedback, where I just like to talk about forward looking stuff, career stuff. I'm actually not that interested in the day to day delivery. And even though I need to be. And so some feedback I got early on was like that, it's nice to talk about where my career is going, but not every single time. So there's, there's probably something like a tendency that you have based on how you're wired or what you value in your own career, that you're projecting out a little bit more on to on to the people you're having one on ones with. So it's good to have that check in from time to time. I like that you sort of sensed that some are easier than others.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. And, you know, I think what was interesting, too, is the people that sort of had the more uneasy one on ones, the the personal side of the relationship was lagging. Right. And as we transition to a method that was easier for them, the personal side, showed marked improvements, you know, and so I think showing that adaptability just shows the other person that you care about, you know, their experience, and it helped them, you know, build trust and open up more. And so it had it had really good benefits in that regard.

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, great. Well, I think we're at another good natural stopping point. So I do want to try to end here, and then we'll wrap up the chapter next time.

Charles Knight:

I think I'm good with that.

Igor Geyfman:

Yeah. What's the I think that makes sense? Yeah. What's next time?

Robert Greiner:

Yeah, so decision making as a leader, which I'm excited to talk about, because I think we've all worked for people who avoided feared, didn't like making decisions, and that made the lives of everyone that worked for them harder. And so definitely, as a leader, your job is to break ties. And so there and like everything here, there's a balance between giving your team autonomy and freedom to figure things out and make decisions on their own. But then at some point, as a leader, you have to you have to get involved. And so what does that look like? Managing difficult people? And then some, maybe closing thoughts on fun humor, bringing play into situation, stuff like that. So I think we can hit those three topics on the next one.

Charles Knight:

Famous last words. I think we can try. If we want to do then I think we should. But yeah, it's solely based on first principles. But my love that I'm really looking forward to talking to you all,

Robert Greiner:

I missed that one. Well, no, that's

Charles Knight:

The decision making one that you talked about.

Robert Greiner:

Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. breaking ties and, and first principles. Yep. Got it. Cool. That could be an episode on its. So yeah, who knows when we're gonna finish the chapter two series. Maybe we should just title them something different? Yeah, we could. Yeah. So we're not on like part 60. We should enjoy the ride. You know? Yeah. I don't mind that either. I mean, this is, I'm glad we've kind of let the foot off the accelerator on this chapter, because it is so dense. And there's a lot here. And I think we're extracting maximum value from it for sure.

Charles Knight:


Robert Greiner:

I agree. Okay, cool. Well, we'll keep going. It was great talking to you all.

Charles Knight:

Yeah. It'll take care. We'll see y'all later this week, I think.

Robert Greiner:

Yes. Yeah. Have a good one.

Igor Geyfman:

Oh, it's fun.

Charles Knight:

I guess

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