"I was the person with 20 different notepads and stacks of paper on my desk. Tracking things was very disorganized for me."
Are you getting the most value out of your 1 on 1 meetings? Do they feel like a good use of your time? Or is staying organized and prepared slipping through the cracks a lot?
As a leader, the number of roles you're expected to perform can often be overwhelming.
You're responsible for coaching, motivating, and nurturing your team members. You're expected to build meaningful relationships and remember key details about your people. Ensuring everyone is following up on their commitments is also part of your job description.
And that just scratches the surface of your responsibilities.
Keeping track of things as a leader gets complicated. As your team gets bigger, it becomes next to impossible.
Every manager's secret weapon: the 1:1 meeting
Your most valuable tool for being a great manager are your 1:1 meetings. The way you inves your time in these meetings with your team members can make the difference between being an awesome leader and one whose team is checked out and looking for the exit.
Unfortunately, a lot of managers are not getting enough value from their 1:1s on a regular basis.
The most common challenges we hear include:
- Empty, surface-level conversations with your team that lack value for either of you
- The inability to give or receive effective feedback effectively
- Not enough time to meet with everyone, especially if you lead large teams
- Constantly switching between apps and documents to record information, or losing track of where you noted something
- Not following up on commitments consistently
- Failing to grow your team members, causing their careers to stagnate
- Forgetting details about employees that help foster meaningful relationships
Yvonne Miller, VP of Client Services at Edlio, has had to deal with many of these issues over the course of her career.
In her 14 years as a manager, Yvonne's role has grown to leading 40 people and, now five other managers.
The added responsibility meant staying on top of her tasks became increasingly difficult:
Lighthouse made a huge difference for Yvonne.
Yvonne realized she needed help. She wanted to get more out of her meetings, and keep track of her team's plans, goals, and promises in a way that didn't get easily lost or missed.
In 2016, Yvonne started using Lighthouse, our 1:1 meeting software designed to help managers improve their leadership skills. It proved to be the perfect tool for her, because it helped her organize vital team information in one central place.
Building on her own success, she soon was able to get her team members and managers to start using it, too.
Thanks to everyone's adoption of Lighthouse, her department has become more intentional about their actions. They've also been more willing to work on their weaknesses, and more prepared during 1:1s.
Today, we'll share the story of how Lighthouse helped Yvonne stay on track as a leader. We'll also look at its impact on Edlio's company culture.
We'll be focusing on the specific features of our software that made a difference and how using them can transform your company as well.
How Lighthouse helped Edlio embrace a culture of meaningful 1 on 1 meetings, regular feedback, and continuous improvement
Edlio is a company that helps K-12 schools build customized websites and even today still has a bit of a startup feel to it.
The startup atmosphere is why many of its employees are used to wearing multiple hats and juggling a lot of tasks at the same time. Yvonne started using Lighthouse to stay on top of who's doing what and keep track of everyone's performance and progress.
"I chose Lighthouse because it's a central place to document 1:1 and personal notes. It also helps me build rapport with my team. After I started using it, I knew where to go for the information I needed and what I should learn about everyone on my team.”
Over time, the impact of Lighthouse on Edlio grew beyond organizing information. It's now considered a key element of the culture in Yvonne's team.
Let's take a look at the main areas where our software was able to help them grow.
The (im)measurable benefits of Lighthouse
Lighthouse focuses on helping managers improve their soft skills during 1:1s and beyond. And while soft skills are immensely important for any leader, measuring their impact is difficult.
For example, how can you get exact data on your team members' happiness? Or how can you quantify the effect of motivation or morale on productivity?
These factors are very difficult to track. However, Yvonne was able to highlight five areas where Lighthouse impacted Edlio. These are:
- Very low turnover
- High marks in employee satisfaction
- Teams are very cohesive and collaborative
- Better and more meaningful relationships
- Saving time and making remembering things easier
For Yvonne, the immeasurable benefits of Lighthouse are just as important as the measurable ones. She told us:
"I have very low turnover in the teams I lead. We also have consistently high marks in employee satisfaction. Our teams are very cohesive and collaborative.
I believe that a key piece of that is that Lighthouse helps facilitate our relationships. Features such as the rapport section and suggested questions in 1:1s have been a huge part of that. They encourage us to communicate more transparently and regularly.”
A positive impact across the board
Other Lighthouse features have contributed to more measurable outcomes at Edlio. This includes greater productivity and following through on commitments and promises. As Yvonne puts it:
"The automated agenda and action item emails are a huge time saver for me. Thanks to them, I'm able to hold myself and others accountable to tasks and goals. I can do that without losing track of details discussed at previous meetings.”
Lighthouse was designed to help you impact both tangible and intangible factors at your company.
What the numbers will show you is fewer people leaving, higher employee satisfaction rates, more completed objectives, and higher productivity.
What they won't show you are the long-term effects of developing meaningful relationships with your people. As Yvonne puts it:
"Lighthouse has become part of our culture. It allows us to prioritize the relationship-building piece of being a manager. This is crucial for creating long-lasting bonds and keeping everyone happy.”
Getting more value out of your 1 on 1 meetings
Yvonne started using Lighthouse because she wanted to have more organized 1:1s. As her team expanded, she got tired of tracking everything manually.
Lighthouse allowed her to keep all her 1:1 information in one central location. This turned out to have far-reaching, positive impacts for her and her team:
"Once my notes were in one place and organized, I started being intentional about reviewing things ahead of 1:1s.
Lighthouse made it so much easier to do that thanks to the prep emails ahead of each meeting.
Keeping notes allowed me to spot issues before they snowballed or see patterns in my team's behavior. Lighthouse also kept reminding me to enter notes for every check-in with my team members.”
Additionally, the agenda and action item features we mentioned were key to creating consistency on Yvonne's team:
"We're able to say: "Okay, on this date, we talked about doing this, here's the email, here's proof that we did that”. It's become much easier to choose what to focus on next.
That really motivates people to stay on track from meeting to meeting.”
Yvonne also loves how Lighthouse was designed to get managers to take action:
"Lighthouse encourages managers to be more proactive. It even suggests questions to help you make the most out of your meetings!
Once I was using them regularly, these features helped me understand the importance of 1:1s. It was great to get this type of structural advice on an ongoing basis.”
Lighthouse will help you plan every 1:1 and go beyond simple status updates. You'll be spending time nurturing your people's skills, instead of having awkward or shallow conversations.
We also ensure everyone on your team is following up on commitments by sending them reminders ahead of each check-in, which they can also use to contribute topics to discuss next time.
This kind of structured approach will let you consistently get more value out of your 1:1s. Every week they'll get better and better.
For more information on having great 1:1s, you can check out the following links:
- One on One Meeting Questions Great Managers Ask Their Teams
- 7 Essential Tips for Effective 1 on 1 Meetings with Your Manager
- One on One Meetings: The Only Guide Managers Need [Free Template]
Build a foundation of rapport with your team
One of the most underrated aspects of management is taking the time to build rapport and trust with the people on your team.
According to Gallup, rapport is critical for increasing engagement among your employees:
At Edlio, Lighthouse played a key factor in helping build rapport between managers and their team members. For Yvonne, this has been one of the most valuable aspects of using our software:
"I'm a big believer in relationship building. Lighthouse is a tool that facilitates that process. This is especially critical for the manager-subordinate relationship. Building rapport is essential for helping people perform well and keeping up morale.”
Yvonne started out leading a small group, but as it grew to over 40 people, it became increasingly difficult to remember key details about her team members. As she put it:
"I started forgetting things. For example, I knew I was talking about horseback riding with someone, I just couldn't remember who it was with.
Having notes to spark my memory was really helpful in that regard. That rapport area was critical when I was trying to have 1:1s with large groups.”
Create deeper relationships
Yvonne eventually built her team to include five managers reporting to her. This meant that her focus was now on building deeper bonds instead of just juggling a large number of 1:1s:
"I needed to structure some middle managers and pare down the number of people that I was having 1:1s with. That's when then the relationship-building really was in earnest."
Yvonne now had had more time to focus on her key relationships and how they were evolving over time.
And having all her information in one central location made all the difference.
She had all the insights she had compiled over time organized and readily available. This is what allowed her to build deeper bonds and increase her team's engagement, even as the team, and her responsibilities, grew.
Looking back, Lighthouse has helped Yvonne build rapport during two phases of her career:
- It helped her remember important details about her team members even when she was leading a team of 40+ people. This includes key names, birthdays, work anniversaries, hobbies, and more.
- It helped her focus on building more meaningful, genuine connections when she started having less 1:1s. This happened as a result of having all of her key information organized in one place. It also allowed her direct reports to do the same with their teams.
You can read more about the importance of building rapport with your team by visiting the following pages:
- 82 Ways How to Build Rapport With Anyone You Work With
- Why You Should Build Rapport with Everyone You Manage
- Building Rapport: The First Step to Being a Great Manager
The Lighthouse Manager Score and the importance of honest feedback
At Edlio, they value working on and improving areas of weakness. That's why Yvonne was also excited to use Lighthouse's Manager Score benchmarking survey.
The Lighthouse Manager Score was designed as a survey based on research from Google, Gallup, Deloitte, and others. It lets team members evaluate key behaviors of their managers anonymously. The idea behind this is to encourage open feedback.
As Yvonne told us, this wasn't possible before for them:
"In the past, we were asking employees what they thought about their managers in front of the managers themselves. Unsurprisingly, that doesn't exactly invite honest feedback.”
The Lighthouse Manager Score provided them with a great alternative to this unsuccessful approach. With a Manager Score, every manager is evaluated based on the same criteria. This includes a manager's ability to:
- Give feedback
- Build rapport
- Retain employees
- Develop and grow their team members
However, reading survey answers isn't enough to get leaders to take action on its own. That's why the Lighthouse Manager Score includes specific, actionable advice on how to improve. It also includes further reading to help managers address their weaknesses.
Yvonne and her team found this very helpful:
"Our managers were very excited to see the results. They really liked the advice on how to deal with the weaker areas, too. That's something I would sit down and discuss with them.
I'd walk them through some situations or share my ideas on how to solve a particular challenge. Having a number of Lighthouse blog posts to point people to is also super convenient.”
The Lighthouse Manager Score is perfect for finding out exactly how managers are doing in ways people may not usually bring up.
It encourages managers to improve by providing suggestions on how to become a better leader and useful resources on each category of questions.
And best of all, if you use our software and Manager Score together, we'll give you a friendly reminder in your 1 on 1s to discuss the survey with your team. This lets them know you're listening, makes you more accountable to change, and motivates your team to make the effort to participate in future surveys.
To learn more about how the score works and how you can use it for your team, click here.
Lighthouse brought Improvements at every level
In five years at Edlio, Lighthouse was able to help both managers and their team members improve in a number of areas.
Everyone became more intentional about their actions, focused on their goals, and open in communication.
Their 1:1 meetings benefited from more structure. Action items for every check-in, automated areminders, suggested questions, and easy to find notes helped everyone stay on track with their goals and to make weekly progress.
Building rapport and remembering key details about team members became easier. This happened as a result of keeping information neatly organized in the rapport section. This trust created psychological safety and a foundation for everything else managers worked on with their teams.
Additionally, the Lighthouse Manager Score reshaped the feedback process for managers at Edlio. It allowed leaders to be evaluated anonymously and based on the same criteria, while getting valuable advice on how to improve in their weak areas.
The one Lighthouse benefit that ties everything together
There's one benefit that Yvonne singled out as the greatest strength of Lighthouse:
"The biggest change I've seen since implementing Lighthouse was a change in culture.
Everyone adopted this mindset of continuous feedback and improvement. That is something I don't feel like my team was very intentional about before.”
Five years of using us has reinforced new habits for Yvonne's team at Edlio:
"Lighthouse has facilitated this cultural shift to talking about continuous feedback. We're now more focused on ongoing improvement and performance conversations.
Every feature was designed to help us be consistent in trying to make progress. For example, being able to say "Exactly five weeks ago you were here and now you're here”, really puts things in perspective for most people.
It helps everyone follow up on development plans. It's also great for addressing areas of concern and weaknesses. Lighthouse has really transformed the way we think about improvement in so many ways.”
The willingness to improve eventually became second nature for Yvonne's team. People are now able to keep track of their own progress. They have multiple tools for developing talents, as well as giving and receiving feedback.
This has become ingrained in everyone's way of thinking and motivates people to give their all.
Take the first step to becoming like Edlio.
Lighthouse has helped managers of all experience levels at Edlio learn to excel as leaders. Their team members are now more engaged, thoughtful about their actions, and better organized.
To start transforming your team's mindset like Edlio, start a 21-day free trial of our software now.
You'll be able to test out all the features mentioned in this case study. You'll also learn how you can improve your leadership skills today.
Sign up for a free trial now and start building a culture of ongoing feedback and improvement.