Engaging with your Direct Reports


In the past, we’ve written about turning organizational values into something more than words on a page. One way to do that is through effective conversations with each other in the workplace.

Thanks to  Brian Clapp, Chief Operating Officer, CCI Consulting for allowing us to share this second installment with our readers.


As a leader, most of what you accomplish will get done with, and through, other people.  Gaining an understanding of the perspectives, ideas, and concerns of your new direct reports provides insight into the current state of the team and may highlight potential opportunities for increasing individual and team effectiveness.  Important components of the conversation with direct reports include:

Understanding the Individual: 

  • How does each individual describe themselves personally?
  • What are they passionate about? What does each find important about the work they do?
  • What do they think you most need to understand about them?
  • What strengths does each individual bring to his/her role? What challenges?

Understanding the Roles:

  • What is each individual’s formal role and areas of responsibility? How long have they been in the organization and in this role?
  • Clarify any immediate questions about scope of their role and responsibilities.
  • What are the major priorities or ‘hot issues” in this individual’s area? What is he/she striving to accomplish this year?
  • Clarify expectations about your involvement in these priorities and issues. How active will you be?  What kind of information updates on these issues do you (as boss) expect?

Mutual Expectations: 

  • Define decision making parameters: Given each direct report’s role, what types of decisions are assumed to be “theirs” to make, the new leader’s to make, or shared between the two?
  • What frequency and type of communication do you prefer? Each direct report? (e.g., voice mail, email, in-person)
  • How often will the new leader & each direct meet 1:1 in the first 90 days? What are the main topics that these meeting will cover?
  • Are there any pet peeves or “hot buttons” that you think the other person should be aware of?

Contributed by: Brian Clapp, Chief Operating Officer, CCI Consulting

Tune in next month for Part 3, ENGAGING KEY STAKEHOLDERS. To view previous blogs, click here.

Jackie Messersmith is President and CEO of Talent Management LLC. Talent Management provides consulting services to small to mid-size businesses to put a TOP™ performing company culture and talent strategy in place, and is the developer and distributor of Talent Snapshot®, an integrated, competency-based, “in the cloud” talent management solution. Jackie can be reached at 513-528-9700 or jackie@talentmanagementllc.com.