How to Run an Effective One-on-One Meeting

/ July 30, 2020 July 30, 2020

Too often, managers shy away from one on one meetings because they don’t know how to structure them or how to have difficult conversations. It’s easy to cut out meetings that you feel aren’t bringing value, especially when Zoom fatigue sets in. But when executed well, one on ones have the power to significantly boost team productivity, morale, and engagementThese meetings help managers avoid getting overwhelmed by ensuring each member of the team is focused on the right task. Beyond that, one on ones offer dedicated time for mentoring and coaching. Taking this opportunity to help guide your employees on their personalized path to success lets them know that they’re fully supported, which can contribute to a strong sense of belonging. 

In addition to ensuring that your direct reports understand the purpose of your one-on-one discussions as described above, below are three best practices for ensuring they are as productive as possible: 

  1. One on ones are critical to the growth of an employee, as they help managers track their progress. To ensure that progress is being made, you must meet whether things are going good or bad. When things are going well, celebrate their accomplishments and help guide them towards future successes. When they’re facing challenges, come prepared ready for a difficult conversation. Turn it into a learning situation by giving them constructive criticism and ways to address problems in the future. Both parties should agree to a specific cadence (eg. one hour per month) and come prepared
  2. It’s important to check in on work tasks but especially in these challenging times, check-in on a personal level too. Ask how they’re doing outside of work and if there’s anything in the office you can do to better support their well-being outside of it. Fostering an empathetic work environment will help employees feel more cared for and secure in their roles.
  3. For your employees to feel valued and to help them develop professionally, they need to have your full attention. Avoid distractions during one on ones, such as checking your email or answering texts. They might seem time-consuming now but taking a few minutes to coach employees frees up your time to focus on your own work with the confidence that you won’t be putting out fires later. 

One-on-ones are an important strategic tool for all managers. They can help solidify or correct strategic direction, help executives become better teammates and leaders and serve as early identifiers for a host of potential challenges and obstacles. Time invested in doing them well pay off not only with each individual but with how your leadership team operates collectively. For more tips on effective leadership or performance management, fill out the form below: 

Sources: 15five and SHRM