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We obviously know who our team is, but do we really know each person?! Each person is unique, each has their own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. To get the best out of someone you need to understand them well enough. This takes time but it also takes thought with seeking the right information. Having that deeper knowledge not only strengthens the relationship, it means you have the insight to make decisions for the benefit of individuals and the team.

In a previous blog – taking notes during a one-on-one – I mentioned capturing notes from these one-on-ones into a draft email. This I still do, but there is more in this email that helps me get to know each person. As well as the regular notes I take I aim to out more about them using these subjects: Mobile, Family, Birthday, Lives, Likes, What is truly important, Favourite treat, Personality type, Strengths, Triggers, Learning style.

Some of these are straightforward and easy to get, others take observation and thought to understand. I’ve gone through each of them below to give an idea of what I looking for:

  • Mobile – this should be stored in your phone anyway but always useful to record it here.
  • Family – husband/wife/partner? Children? Names? Making a connection to their family by remembering names helps build the relationship.
  • Birthday – companies handle birthdays differently, but a manager should always be aware of the birthdays in their teams. Acknowledging a birthday can really make a difference to someone!
  • Lives – where they live and how they travel to work is useful. You can sympathise with them about any travel disruptions! I have someone who lives in the South of England and gets Southern Rail to work…enough said!
  • Likes – what are their personal interests? This might help in building a relationship with them if you have similar interests. Or if you wanted to get them a thank you gift having something related to their hobbies could make their day!
  • What is truly important – is there something that above all else means the most to them? This is more something they ‘Like’. Those with a family it’s typically their children. Having this information gives insight into their priorities, it could also help if you ever wanted to give a special gift
  • Favourite treat – treats for the team help boost energy and morale, including people’s favourites will put an even bigger smile on their face. This might also give you a chance to learn if they have any food allergies! Did I say I like white choc chic cookies?
  • Personality type – it’s important to understand this, this can make or break the team as I covered here. Some examples are: Results-oriented, Relationship-focused, Innovative, and Pragmatic.
  • Strengths – I learnt about this and the next two on this blog. What are they good at? What do they find satisfying? Do they have a passion in any particular area?
  • Triggers – what do they need that will trigger their strength. Are they a morning/afternoon person? Enjoy pressure? Finding the right trigger can ignite their energy for a given task.
  • Learning style – the main three styles are: analysing, doing, or watching.

For example, someone’s notes could look like:

Mobile – 07777 112233
Family – boyfriend (Will), a dog (Chewy) who rules the house
Birthday – 11-Jul
Lives – Richmond, gets District line to work
Likes – walking (with dog), music (dubstep??), tattoo art
What is truly important – apart from the dog, her mum (they are very close)
Favorite treat – giant chocolate buttons (hard to resist!)
Personality type – pragmatic, can be rebellious and vocal in group discussions. Does care for other teammates
Strengths – investigations into problems, knowing the details. Doesn’t like being distracted while investigating (prefers headphones on to zone in)
Triggers – Analysing. Afternoons are her best time, prefers any meetings to happen in the mornings (but after 10 am)
Learning style – analysing (preferably on her own)

It’s not easy getting all this information and expect some to take time. One-on-ones are the ideal place to learn about each person, starting with very first one. Also, observing people’s interactions and reactions with the team in various situations give you a lot of information. Remember that people’s situations change so be prepared to check and update regularly.

The more information we have the more educated our decisions can be. As we know, bad decisions can lead to failed projects, poor morale, and even ruin friendships! Knowing each person the best you can allows you to offer the right opportunities to the right people. Having a deeper understanding of each person and making decisions based on that knowledge shows you care for them, for some people that is all they need to know!

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