The 15 Minutes That Makes All the Difference

People don’t leave jobs. They leave supervisors. I hear this consistently from my friends in HR, and have seen it happen too many times myself. Good staff, with the right values and solid skills, who feel unnoticed or unappreciated. While their supervisor is distracted by squeaky wheels, bureaucratic hoops and other forms of (often) unnecessary drama, these foundations of your team start to slowly lose their sense of engagement and energy for the job. Does anyone notice? Does anyone care that these individuals are “ripe for the picking” in the midst of a demanding job market?

According to Marcus Buckingham, in his new book Love+Work, spending 15 minutes each week with each of your direct reports is a foundational component of building engagement among your team. Fifteen minutes, asking four simple questions: What did you love about last week? What did you loathe about last week? What are your priorities this week? What help do you need from me? 15 minutes. Once a week. According to Buckingham’s research, doing this every week drives team member engagement up by 77%, and voluntary turnover in the next six months decreases by 67%. 15 minutes, once a week.

In that 15 minutes, over the course of time, you will learn what sparks each of your team members. You will know what unique aspects of their role keep them coming back day after day. Because even if you have a dozen people who all have the same job description, each of them connects with their role in a very different way. That’s the beauty of a team — everyone brings their own unique gifts and graces to the table, which enrichs your team and makes it more impactful.

In that 15 minutes, you will also learn how best to support your people. Are they motivated by public recognition or prefer a private “job well done”? Do they like to work interactively with people or prefer more solo work? Are they driven by the letter of the procedure, or do they prefer a bit of creative license to dance near or perhaps slightly over “the line”? When you see and appreciate them for the unique individual they are, rather than a person filling a position, their engagement with and positive impact on your organization will only expand further.

15 minutes. Even if you have 10 direct reports, we’re talking two and a half hours of your week . . . to increase engagement, reduce turnover, and learn more about the important work happening in your organization every day. Two and a half hours of leading.

Working on your priority list? Maybe you should start with 15 minutes that can make all the difference.

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