1-on-1s: How Great Managers Run Them
Considering this, one of the best ways to deliver constructive feedback is through a 1-on-1. A 1-on-1 is an effective and efficient way to help your team members get better at their craft. At the same time, the manager improves their leadership skills and develops trust with their colleagues.
The benefits are clearly there. That said, how do you run an effective 1-on-1? In this post, we want to describe how you can get the most out of your 1-on-1 sessions. Implementing these insights and pieces of advice, you will run better 1-on-1’s and help your organization accomplish its goals.
Preparing For Your 1-on-1’s
When thinking about running great 1-on-1’s, it’s important to think about both the preparatory stage as well as the actual stage. Many managers forget about the preparatory stage or simply rush through it. This is an unfortunate mistake, as failing to do the initial work will make your 1-on-1 much less effective.
So how do great managers prepare for their 1-on-1’s?
An important part of the process is discussing the employee’s prior and current goals. Ideally, that employee has already written those goals down. If so, make sure that you objectively review the employee’s goals and his or her progress. Doing this before the 1-on-1 can make your time together much more productive.
Beyond reviewing the employee’s long-term goals and their progress toward those goals, be sure to ask the employee for talking points for the near-term as well. Not sure where to start? Consider some of the following topics:
• Ask for ideas to help improve how team(s) work together.
• Ask for self improvement feedback, be specific.
• Ask what work the employee is finding fulfilling vs. not.
• Ask what interpersonal issues the employee is experiencing.
The point of 1-on-1 is not to check on projects, but to check on wellness. When setting the agenda, be sure to focus on finding out what you can do as a manager to improve your employee's work life and to eliminate any day-to-day barriers they are facing.
Running Stellar 1-on-1’s
As for running the 1-on-1 itself, there are several important things to keep in mind.
First and foremost, DO NOT miss the meeting or reschedule it (unless there is an emergency). There's no faster way to let your employees know how little you value them and their time than to consistently de-prioritize their 1-on-1 with you. If you don't feel like spending 3 months onboarding and training a replacement, it's best to keep your 1-on-1's on the calendar.
To that same end, be present during the meeting itself. For many managers, this is easier said than done. The average workday is packed with time-sensitive tasks and frequent interruptions. Yet while multi-tasking can sometimes pay off, a 1-on-1 meeting is not the time to do so. By giving your undivided attention, you signal to your employee that the 1-on-1 meeting is important to you. You make it easier for them to open up and share what is really on their mind. You’re able to make the meeting much more productive and valuable.
From presence, make sure that your advice and insights are personalized. This is where your preparation pays off. You can give well-tailored advice and feedback. Importantly, make sure the feedback is actionable. The big picture is important, but employees will appreciate actionable tips or insights that they can implement today.
Finally, listen closely to your employee’s words and feedback. A 1-on-1 meeting is a two-way street. There are plenty of things that you can learn about your management style, the employee’s working conditions, and the organization as a whole. Whether the employee is an entry-level or higher-ranking employee, they likely have information about your company that you don’t already know.
Ultimately, practice active listening and don’t hesitate to ask for more details. While you may not initially expect it, a 1-on-1 meeting may provide you with insights that can take your business to the next level. Ignore their insights at your own peril.
Creating Mutual Value
At times, 1-on-1 meetings may seem purely obligatory. Your organization may compel you and other managers to provide formal reviews or meetings of your colleagues. Whether you are forced to hold 1-on-1 meetings or are doing them voluntarily, we highly encourage you to leverage the opportunity. Doing so will provide immense benefits to you, your employee, and your organization as a whole.
Regardless of the size or sector, the manager of any great business ensures that his or her team members are performing at their highest level. Much of this comes down to consistent and constructive feedback. Without helpful feedback from their managers or leaders, employees will find it much more difficult to improve their skills and contribute more to the organization.