In an earlier post, we discussed the challenges with employee one-on-ones and briefly touched upon tips for structuring the discussion. One of the most effective styles of employee one-on-ones leverages the continue-start-stopmanagement technique. You’ll find lots of management-consulting worksheets around this methodology, but here is how it can work more casually at your startup.
During your one-on-one discussions, simply make three lists (use Trello!) to categorize the items the employee would like to continue, start and stop doing in their current role. Revisit the lists each week to add, remove or update the items. Try to attach a date to each item as you add them. This helps track and analyze progress over time. (Bonus Tip: This technique also works great for larger team retrospectives.)
Focus the continue list on the areas that both you and the employee feel they are performing well in, and any specific activities, responsibilities, or projects they enjoy. This is the easiest list to compile.
A start list should be goal-based, used to enumerate challenges the employee wishes to take on and the areas they need to improve in. This list can get specific. For example, if they regularly forget to update their sprint tickets, be clear about what they should start doing.
The stop list compiles the things the employee would like to move away from, as well as bad habits they should break — addressing any take-aways from recent team retrospectives. This list should be clear and actionable with deadlines. Don’t let items in the stop list linger.
Asking your employee to reflect on these three simple categories uncovers quite a bit about their feelings around their role on your team. We recommend trying this out for a month or two with your team, to see if it works for you. If anything, it is a great starting point for new managers who feel uncertain about how to structure 1:1 discussions.