In the first half, we introduced the background and guidance for the “one-on-one meeting improvement project” that was applied at Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (“Murata” hereafter). We will inspect the relationship between the interactions and questionnaires by “visualizing” the interaction and have the employees participate in questionnaires concerning the one-on-one meetings for human resource development and improvement of employee satisfaction. So, have they been able to discover an optimal style?
In the latter half, we have learned about the inspection results of the project as well as the kinds of changes that were observed during one-on-one meetings that followed.
Satisfactory interaction styles vary depending on the other party and purpose
-- You’ve told us that you’ve been searching for ideal one-on-one meeting styles based on “visualized” interaction results and employee questionnaires. What were the inspection results?
Through aggregated results acquired combining one-on-one meeting communication results that include [attentive listening], [chatting], [discussion], and [guidance] with questionnaire results including “disclosure level of concerns and issues,” “clarity of solutions,” and “satisfaction,” we have discovered that, although there are individual differences, the distribution rate of optimal communication styles vary depending on the content and subject of one-on-one meetings.
In the case of this organization and team that continues to challenge the new digital marketing and service fields, we have discovered that employee satisfaction increases when there is more time for teaching in the form of “guidance” for employees rather than coaching through “attentive listening” by managers.
For example, in one-on-one meetings where “self-disclosure”—which indicates a state where the issue between participants is being explored—is set as the subject, we have discovered that employees were able to speak to their managers about their concerns and issues when the style distribution ratio during meetings was <attentive listening: 25%, chatting: 35%, no discussion, guidance: 40%>.
In contrast, if “solutions for concerns and issues” is the content and subject for issues that have become clear to a certain extent, “clarity of solutions” was high when the style distribution ratio was <attentive listening: 20%, no chatting, discussion: 30%, guidance: 50%>.
In addition, “one-on-one meeting satisfaction” was the highest when the style distribution ratio was <attentive listening: 25%, chatting: 10%, discussion: 30%, guidance: 35%>.
These results could not be acquired simply by conducting one-on-one meetings, and I feel the project was beneficial and effective.
The atmosphere and quality of the meetings had changed, and work became smoother.
How did the one-on-one meetings change after implementation of this project? We spoke to Masuyama, who is a subordinate.
-- Were there any changes to the one-on-one meetings following this project?
Yes. Honestly, I felt the meetings went more smoothly than before. Previously, the atmosphere of the one-on-one meetings felt stiff and I felt quite nervous while I prepared for the meetings. Honestly speaking, I had doubts on the validity of the time spent preparing for them.
However, currently, Harada’s communication methods have changed and the atmosphere of the meetings has become better. As a result, I’ve come to feel more comfortable preparing for the meetings. I’m satisfied with the current state of the one-on-one meetings.
-- Please speak to us about any personal merits you’ve felt since the one-on-one meetings have been improved.
Work is now easier to tackle and we are able to proceed more smoothly. Since the atmosphere has softened, it is easier for me to go consult about any issues regardless of how trivial they are. I am also able to ask for advice when supporting subject formation and handling business operations.
There are no templates for communication. We want to establish optimal styles for each individual.
Next, we spoke to senior manager Harada on what kind of results he achieved through the one-on-one meetings.
-- We’ve heard that one-on-one meetings had already been implemented at your division.
We had been conducting meetings for about a year with an aim to discover the effects of one-on-one meetings. This was my decision and was not something the company had planned.
I believe that, in order to gain customer satisfaction, we must have our employees, in this case our subordinates, feel more satisfied with the company itself and their jobs. With this as the foundation, I believe it is crucial to create an active organization and team where each employee has a sense of leadership and followership by applying these traits to human resource development. We had been testing various communication methods with this purpose in mind.
Meanwhile, I had enrolled in our in-house coaching training program and learned about attentive listening, and I read the e-book on one-on-one meetings. I was aware of my bad communication habit where I would not listen to what I was being told or I’d stop someone mid-speech. So when I was exposed to the content of the training and the e-book, I simply thought, “Attentive listening for sure!” without giving the actual content much thought.
So then I decided to conduct one-on-one meetings to try attentive listening by starting the meeting with the question, “What should we talk about today?” without setting a subject as was instructed in the e-book. As a result, I felt the meetings were effective with some staff members, but interactions with some staff members did not continue smoothly. I must apologize to the staff members who faced more demerits rather than positive effects and benefits.
-- What kind of results did you gain from this project?
“Attentive listening for sure!” was a big mistake. I kind of knew, and it is quite natural, that satisfactory communication styles for one-on-one meetings would vary depending on the staff members as well as in terms of content and subject.
Understanding the communication style distribution ratio by content and subject analyzed by Murofushi based on these inspections and applying it is an effective way to proceed with one-on-one meetings.
For the staff members to feel they had been capable of “speaking to managers about their concerns and issues,” I understand that we are to carefully listen to what they have to say, dig deep into the conversation, and provide feedback regarding the issues. Although this is as far as my ability goes, I aim to clarify reality versus ideals, issues that arise from this gap, and issues for its solution as well as stipulate issues to achieve these solutions while applying a hearing template. And in the end, it was understood when the final feedback was accurate! My worries were clarified! I believe this would be the result and staff members will be able to feel they had been capable of “speaking to managers about their concerns and issues.”
In addition, if staff members believe they want to “clarify solutions for issues, problems, and concerns,” I believe it is better to carefully listen to what they have to say, provide a rough solution, have passionate discussions with them, and create a better solution together. From the staff members’ points of view, I believe it is more convincing if they are not provided with one-sided solutions and they gradually discover solutions through their own opinions. The best result would be for each staff member to be further motivated through one-on-one meetings and to lead teams with a sense of purpose and leadership.
This may be repetitive, but I believe it is crucial to respond to the participant’s emotions. This process is not applied in a uniform manner but is performed based on the conversation subject and flow.
-- What kind of one-on-one meeting do you plan on hosting in the future?
There were also results that displayed that one-sided advice and communication that just draws out opinions from participants are not effective. Nevertheless, I believe it is ideal to actively have discussions combining the knowledge of both parties. Attentive listening alone is not enough; it is also important to enhance possibilities that would lead to better actions by broadening ideas and discussions, providing information, knowledge, and experience as guidance at times, and having younger staff members provide fresh ideas. It is quite embarrassing to label this as management, but I would like to continue trying to discover optimal one-on-one meetings based on the states of our staff members and communication procedures. While doing so, I hope each of our staff members continue to grow, establish teams where each member has a sense of leadership, and continue to pursue customer satisfaction.
I hope this experience and analysis will help both manager and employee with concerns pertaining to communication at various companies as samples and concrete examples. I hope companies will introduce and implement this one-on-one meeting tool.