Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 8 November 2021 ·

Imagine a culture where your employees ask for a 121

An essential factor of employee engagement, yet many businesses struggle to execute a simple and consistent programme of 121s. If they are too long, they inevitably get postponed when things get busy – probably just at the very time when a 121 would be most useful.

When online bed manufacturer Sleep Design signed up to Reclaro and introduced 1-3-5® plans for each employee within their 16-strong team in the UK, one of their key objectives was to change the company’s culture. Duncan Ross, General Manager of Sleep Design, explains:

When I joined the business, we needed more structure and established processes. So we brought in Reclaro® and created 1-3-5® plans with all of our team. It’s given us all a clear sense of purpose and a single-minded focus on our goals. Best of all, each employee can track their progress and measure how they’re getting on throughout the year.

The Reclaro 1-3-5® plans provide an effective structure for 121 meetings, helping maintain focus and providing the perfect framework to assess the employee performance towards key strategic objectives and key results (OKRs). Duncan has seen a change in his team’s culture as a result.

Our 1-3-5® plans have certainly helped contribute towards a change in our culture. For example, some of the team members proactively ask their managers for 121s now to help them move the dial on their goals.

The exciting thing about this is that Duncan’s team takes personal responsibility not just to work hard but also to work hard on the right things. They are holding themselves accountable and maintaining a tight focus. That’s a game-changer for business growth.

When your team members come to you asking for a 121 to help them move towards achieving their goals, it’s a powerful change in the dynamic of how a team works.

What does a good 121 schedule look like?

The frequency of your 121 meetings should match the cadence of your business. So, if you’re growing fast and the rate of change is high, your 121 process needs to match that. That said, a good template for a manageable 4-step check-in process looks something like this:

  1. Weekly: short keep-in-touch meeting – 3 to 5 minutes long.
  2. Monthly: 121: dig into more detail, assess employee progress using their 1-3-5® plan - 30 minutes long.
  3. Quarterly: this is a more-detailed review looking at employee performance and planning – 60 minutes or more.
  4. Annual: very detailed analysis looking back and forward in which the employee should feel supported and motivated – 90 minutes or more.

Creating and maintaining this consistent 121 schedule will stand you in good stead to deliver accelerated results.

For more information on measuring performance check out our blog focusing on how to manage performance with Lag and Lead measures.

Top 3 takeaways

  1. Plan your 121 meetings with your employees and add them to your calendar as a priority.
  2. Create a short agenda for each 121 meeting to make sure you cover everything and keep focused.
  3. Consider using the 1-3-5® business planning framework to plan out your business vision, objectives and goals. They provide a highly effective way for employees to structure their work, allowing them to see the bigger picture and know where best to focus their efforts to achieve results. Download our free 1-3-5 templates to help you get started here.

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