Editor’s Note: Each week, Fast Company presents an advice column by Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the former COO of eBay. Webb offers candid, practical, and sometimes surprising advice to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a question, write to Webb at email@example.com.
Q. How can I scale my presence as a leader once my team is too big to do one-on-ones with everyone?
If you cannot do one-on-one meetings with all of your direct reports every week or every two weeks, you probably have too many people reporting to you. That means it may be time to add some additional leaders to your organization so people get the one-on-one attention they deserve. So, how may you still reach them?
- You can still check in from time to time with skip-level 1:1s. This can be every few months, or it doesn’t have to be formal: Stop by someone’s desk and chat with them. Walk around and talk to people. Have lunch with them. I admire the way Meg Whitman does this. She got rid of the executive lunch room when she joined Hewlett-Packard and made it her business to eat in the cafeteria with everyone.
- Face-to-face meetings are the best, but they are also the mostly costly in terms of resources and they can’t scale. Therefore, you have to look to other methods. Develop weekly status notes where you share what’s top of mind and congratulate people on things well done. It’s an opportunity to reiterate your values and codify your culture and show people what’s rewarded and what’s not.
- Hold extended staff meetings with the whole org. Communicate overall what’s going on and what’s working. Remember that however many times you think you explained it probably is not enough—say it 3-5 times more for everyone to hear it.
- Talk to and visit different regions.
- Hold all-hands as a way to communicate with the entire company. When I was at eBay and LiveOps, we did this at least quarterly. That pales in comparison to what others do. Marissa had all-hands every Friday when she was leading Yahoo and it was very effective.
- When you start out you know everyone, but at some point—if you are successful—you don’t. Marc Benioff ran into this issue at Salesforce and solved for it by broadcasting everything to everybody. It speaks to Salesforce’s values on being open and transparent. It’s amazing.
In a world where there’s more information and more noise and more distraction than ever, we need to maintain our humanness. People still crave human attention, and if you have an employee working for you, they deserve to get it. Be present.