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  • Writer's pictureKeith Jeffrey

Are you worried about your team? The power of the 121!

Are you worried about your team?

Are you feeling guilty that you can't do more to help them?

Can you see them struggling with the work you ask them to do with the limited resources you're able to give them?

In the cultural sector people are all that matters and you care as much about your team as your audiences.

You are busy dealing with your own challenges so you may not have noticed something is causing distress.

All you know is that person isn’t working as well as they might be.

Yet budgets are tight, can you afford it?

My response is can you afford not to?

Roughly speaking when a staff member leaves it costs you 6 months of their salary.

Think about all that recruitment you have to go through. The slow down as the old staff member leaves and the getting up to speed of the new staff member. There might be advertising costs, the costs to you and the team as you hold interviews.

It all adds up.

And then it’s the person themselves.

What are they going through?

Do you know what are the real challenges being faced by your team member?

It might be at home, might be some conflict in the workplace nobody has told you about.

This is why 121s are the most important tool in your armoury as a leader.

Use this as a guide to improving your 121s:

Clear understanding of each other’s role

Understand each other’s role in the 121: Manager - Deliverer

There is a 50/50 responsibility to make this work. Both sides should honour it.

The Line Manager should be interested in IMPACT not in how the work is being delivered.

Test the emotional temperature

Manager should check in on well-being and ask about any issues to be aware of. The Deliverer needs to tell them.


Clear objectives, milestones or whatever works in the context to be written down and referred to. This represents your agreement. If everything is going to plan, fine, quick meeting. If not discuss issues and agree a plan to get things back on track.


At the beginning of every 121 review what should have been done to check if it was.

At the end of the meeting write down what has been agreed.

Each brings energy

You can make 121s fast, focused and fun. Make sure you are moving towards Yes/No decisions as much as possible.

AVOID this type of thinking

Line Manager: “X is great, they are getting on fine, I have this thing to do so I’ll postpone our 121”. This leaves the team member hanging.

The Deliverer: “Y is busy, I’m busy, everything is fine I can get on with things.”

This won't solve every problem but at least you can spot an issue early and do something about it.

Message me if you'd like to know more.

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