Multitasking is a key trait for managers. However, one thing that many managers shy away from is one-on-one meetings. Most of them think one-on-one sessions are a waste of time. When done correctly, they don’t know that one-on-one meetings can be an awesome way of increasing team productivity, morale, and motivation. These meetings are a powerful coaching tool. One-on-ones are all about growth, learning, and boosting employee morale. Being a good coach means you’re a good manager. A Harvard Study says one-on-one meetings increase team performance by up to 89%.
In this article, managers will find 20 tips on conducting successful one-on-ones with their employees. Employees too will benefit from this. First, let’s unpack the definition of a one-on-one meeting.
What are One-on-One Meetings?
A one-on-one meeting is a type of meeting in which managers engage in conversation with their employees periodically. During these meetings, managers and their subordinates discuss professional and organizational growth. Managers help, suggest, and advise their employees on improving their performance and the obstacles standing in their way.
Before the pandemic began one-on-ones generally took place in person, face-to-face. However these days video calls serve the same purpose.
One-on-One Meetings with Employees
First, let’s see what are some tips managers should include on their one-on-one meetings checklist:
Before the Meeting
Every manager should prepare themselves for the meeting. Keep the following tips in mind:
Of course, making time for the meeting is vital. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure all your employees are on track work-wise and to keep up with their progress. So make sure before hopping on to the meeting you have time for a lengthy discussion.
Set an agenda
Set a one-on-one meeting agenda every time. Ask yourself questions like:
What do I want to discuss in today’s meeting?
What are some roadblocks that I am facing?
Did I resolve the previous issues?
Doing so will help you stay on track, avoid distractions and It will save you time.
Having a one-on-one session is all about making things easier for the entire team. When you have a one-on-one conversation, don’t discuss many things at once, instead, prioritize. Discuss the matter that needs the most attention first. Leave the other matters for another meeting, or maybe fix a time for each matter. In this way, you and your employees will not be burdened.
Create a Plan
Having a plan will help you communicate well. Before joining the one-on-one plan your motives. It’s a manager’s job to bridge the gap between them and their employees. Therefore, see where your employees are currently standing and what are some challenges they are facing.
During the Meeting
Be mindful of the following points during your one-on-one meetings:
Be on Time
Be punctual. It will increase your credibility in your employees’ eyes and will make them think you care about them.
Check-In with Them
When you start your 1 on 1 meeting, begin with asking how your employees are doing.
Get to Know Them
Discuss a little with your employees about how things are going outside of work. Try an ice breaker question on their interests, hobbies or maybe ask them the weather or so. It will help them feel valued and will show your concern for them.
Establish Psychological Safety
In a Google study, it was found that employees that feel psychologically safe are more likely to open up about their issues with the managers and be successful in achieving their goals. So, before you begin the work-related stuff, try building rapport with your employees.
Being a manager is more about listening than talking. Check in on the objectives that were set in the previous one-on-one meeting. Pay attention to them while they are talking to you. Listening patiently is the key.
Get your Employees Talking
While you may already be friendly and compassionate, getting your employees to talk is the real deal. For effective one-on-one meetings, both managers and employees must be actively participating in the conversation. Otherwise, these meetings yield nothing. Refer to the following ice-breaker questions as your one-on-one ideas:
- How have things been so far?
- What would you like to discuss today?
- How are things with the rest of the team?
- Is there something that we should start doing?
- Is there anything we should stop doing?
- How do you see your growth path in this organization?
- Is there any other role you’re interested in taking?
- Does this organization align with your future goals?
- Is there any challenge you are facing?
- How can I help you reach your goals?
- Is there any new skill you would like to adopt?
- What do you like doing the most in this company?
For an effective 1 on 1 meeting, acknowledging your employees’ hard work is a priority. Complimenting and supporting your employees is an essential part of almost all high-performing organizations. Before beginning your one-on-one, make sure you have a list of all the times your employees performed well, this will boost their morale and motivate them for the future. Studies show, when you praise employees it boosts their morale, motivates them, and reduces employee attrition.
Remember they’re Human
Try building a personal connection with your employees. Enquire about their life outside of work and tell them about yours. It will be even better if you initiate this, it will build a relationship of trust and bring a sense of belonging. You must make your employees feel valued.
As a crux of one-on-one meetings, discuss the roadblocks that your employees may be facing. Then offer suitable ways to resolve those and provide tips on how they can be avoided in the future.
Establish Next Steps
Create a timeline with dates that talk about what goals lie ahead for the team. These are those objectives that should be discussed in the next one-on-one meeting. Doing this will give your employees a purpose and the urge to fulfill a goal. Whatever goals are set, email them. Studies show that, that emailing those next steps afterward helps ensure they get done
Set SMART Goals
When you are deciding your future goals in the one-on-one, consider setting SMART goals:
- Be specific about the goal
- Make your goals measurable
- Set goals that are attainable
- Be relevant
- Be timely
Check Goal Status
Whether personal or organizational, all employees have goals. During your one-on-one meetings, ask your employees what’s the status of their current and future goals. It’s good for managers to keep a check on those. In case something didn’t work, these meetings can help to reshape these goals. OKRs is a well-known goal framework and there’s no better venue than one-on-one meetings to set them.
Great managers take notes. When coaching your employees, make sure you note down the important points so you don’t forget what was discussed in the previous one-on-one meeting. You don’t want your employees to repeat something over and over.
In one-on-one meetings with your employees, one tip is to be specific about what you want to communicate to your employees. Be fully present. Avoid talking about many things at once and make sure you have made yourself clear to avoid mistakes in the future.
While it is important to have an agenda, managers should also be flexible sometimes. Rigidity hurts, while flexibility increases job satisfaction, stress and increases productivity.
If you want to have effective one-on-ones, following up is crucial. Follow up on the previous one-on-one meeting and see if what was discussed in that has been accomplished. If not, first work on that and then move forward. Continuing this will help you keep up the good work and promote stronger relationships between you and your employees.
To wrap up the meeting, express your gratitude to them. Thank them for bringing value to your organization. Ending things on a positive note will get those happy hormones to kick in and make your employees work harder.
After the Meeting
After the meeting has ended, you should:
- Keep your word and make sure you take care of all the actions that came out of this meeting
- Set recurring meetings so you both know when the next one is
- Whether they meet deadlines or not, hold your employees accountable for their actions. This will ensure that progress is made.
One-on-One Meetings with Managers
The next section of this article will discuss the tips that employees should keep in mind before scheduling their next one-on-one meeting.
Bring things You want to Discuss
Before you hop into the meeting, make sure you have a list of things that you can use as the agenda of the meeting. Avoid joining the one on one meeting empty-handed.
Whatever goals you set in the one-on-one meetings with your manager, stay committed to those. Hold yourself accountable for either fulfilling them or not. Fulfilling these goals will increase your value in the organization.
Don’t Cancel the Meetings
One of the biggest reasons that stop you from having effective one-on-one meetings is canceling them. If for some reason your manager cancels the meeting, be sure to reschedule. Set cadence and regularly have these meetings. If you break this rhythm, you will not get to discuss your problems regularly. Unanchored, these issues can even become worse. Be it a weekly one-on-one with the manager or biweekly, these meetings are meant to be scheduled regularly.
You need to understand your manager is running in many directions at the same time. It’s often not easy for them to remember everything you tell them. Therefore take notes of important things and follow up with an email about the main discussion points.
Ask for Feedback
Whether it is a one-on-one with a manager or a one-on-one with the CEO, it’s good to ask for feedback. Constructive feedback enhances performance and sets expectations.
Be clear in your actions and be punctual for these meetings. Avoid one-word answers and come prepared. If you fail to do so, your manager will be discouraged from having regular one-on-one meetings with you.
Write an Agenda
As you go about working, make a list of all the hurdles you face. When you have your next 1 on 1, you’ll have plenty of things to talk about with your manager.
Discuss Career Goals
It would be great if your manager blocks time on their calendar to discuss your career goals, but managers rarely get the chance to do so. One-on-one meetings are a great platform for you to discuss with them your career goals. One-on-ones are the perfect time to talk about your skills, where you see yourself in a year from now, and where you need additional training.
Set Actionable Future Goals
When there’s action, there’s progress. When there’s progress, there’s success. As discovered in a Harvard Study, small wins create a big impact. When you make progress in work, the feeling of achieving something makes you happy, which in turn, motivates you in achieving even bigger goals. So, talking about future goals is important, and acting on them is even more so.
When you are in a meeting with your manager, ask them about where they see their organization in a month, a year or so. Later, devise plans to reach those goals with your manager and the rest of the team. This will help you stay focused on priorities and speed up the rate at which you reach your goals.
Last Word on One-on-One Meetings
At the end of the day, one-on-one meetings aren’t regular meetings. Instead, their sole purpose is to teach, help and advise one another towards a common goal. One-on-one meetings are a great way to foster better working relationships with your team members. Just make sure both managers and employees have access to these checklists before the next round of one-on-one meetings.