A one on one meeting is crucial in increasing employee engagement by focusing on each employee and discussing their progress, challenges, and goals.
For managers, it's a chance to learn more about each team member and how to assign tasks more efficiently. As for employees, it's a place to get valuable time with their manager, receive direct feedback, and voice their concerns about their work.
Regular one on one meetings are effective in strengthening the bond between employees and their managers and creating a healthy work environment. So how can you make a one on one meeting count?
Let's take a look at a few tips on how to make them more effective.
1. Get your team on board
The first step to ensuring an effective one on one meeting is to explain its value to your employees. If they don't see the 1:1 meetings benefits, they would go into those meetings unenthusiastic or feel they're a waste of time.
Explain to your staff that a one-on-one with senior leadership is their ultimate chance to develop their career path and get direct feedback about their performance. When your team understands the purpose of one on one meetings, they'll be more likely to actively participate in them and even look forward to these weekly or biweekly meetings.
2. Ensure the meetings are regular
The only way to ensure one on one meetings live up to their objective is to have them regularly. Having weekly staff meetings with each employee is ideal; if you can't make that happen with tight schedules, opt for a biweekly one on one meeting.
Another option is to have an asynchronous one-on-one meeting once a week, which can be via email or your preferred communication platform. This way, you can send your one-on-one meeting questions that you want to ask your employee, and they can reply in their own time.
3. Allow your employee to take the lead
One on one meetings are all about the employee, so it makes more sense for them to lead the meeting. As a manager, you are responsible for conducting, scheduling, and facilitating the meeting, but you should clarify that the main purpose is to get the employee to speak up about their concerns and objectives.
This makes employees feel important to their managers and the business itself because they realize their contribution makes a difference. Taking the lead lets them acknowledge their autonomy at work and claim ownership of their achievements.
Remember that letting employees lead the meeting does not get you off the hook; you must be well-prepared for the meeting by reviewing the employee's past performance and knowing what they're currently working on.
The employee's OKRs and KPIs will reveal insights that you can translate into talking points in the one on one meeting.
4. Set adequate time per meeting
The meeting's time depends on how frequent you have one on one meetings. If you were able to have a weekly meeting, you can keep it in the 30-minute range. But if it has been two or three weeks since your last meeting, you should add a little extra time.
Your employee needs to feel that the meeting is not just another task on your schedule. If you have a lot of ground to cover because you've rescheduled a couple of meetings, you need to set adequate time for your one on one to ensure you get the most out of it.
While managers have a lot on their hands, you should be careful not to reschedule your one on one meetings too often, which brings us to the next tip.
5. If you have to reschedule, you have to make up for it
It's so easy to get caught up in your work and other important meetings, which can cause you to cancel your one on one meeting. However, it's best not to cancel the meeting altogether but to reschedule it to a specific date and time so that the employee knows they're still on your schedule.
Make sure to have the meeting on the postponed date and time or else your one on one meetings may end up pushed a month or two, and before you know it, these meetings won't be recurring anymore.
6. Don't make it about project management
Managers may sometimes make one on one meetings about status updates and how to manage the employee's ongoing projects. But the 1:1 is not about that; its focus should be on how the employee is doing.
Instead, ask the employee about how they're feeling and what they're thinking about this week. You should make them feel that you're there to support them, so ask them what they need from you.
You should also ask them what they need you not to do; some managers can't help but micromanage their employees who end up feeling stressed and uncomfortable because they feel supervised all the time.
Save your status updates for another meeting or in the private chat. You can send them an email or wait for the standup meeting to discuss any updates.
7. Be invested and actively listen
It's not enough to just show up to the one on one meeting; you have to be mentally prepared to actively listen to your employee, who will be talking for the better part of the meeting.
While it seems like an easy task, it's really not! But it's important not to consider one on one meetings as a chore. Think of it as a chance to get to know your employee by allowing them to tell their story.
Don't give your feedback unless you've listened to their challenges and concerns; that's why you should leave this part till the end. Your feedback should always be about helping your employee boost their productivity and not about criticizing their work.
8. Ask your employee for feedback
This may seem like a strange tip for one on one meetings, but it goes a long way in showing your respect and support to them. Getting direct feedback also helps you figure out how you can best support your employee.
Chances are your employees will be reluctant to give their feedback so try to ask a question like, "What can I do to make your job easier?" Take note of their response and try to come up with an action item for yourself to implement their suggestions.
9. Talk about their career path
One on one meetings are the perfect place to talk about career development with each employee. Setting a clear career path with your employee for the next year, five years, and even ten years can be a great conversation starter.
This will get your employee to talk about their hopes and dreams professionally and how they would like to develop over the years. However, you must remember they have to feel comfortable enough to share their aspirations with you, so it may take more than one meeting to get them to open up.
You can start the meeting with a few ice breakers to help your employee loosen up and talk about themselves. Once they feel comfortable enough, you can talk to them about their career path and provide a few pointers on how to get there.
10. Create a one on one meeting agenda
A one on one meeting agenda is the best way to keep your meeting organized. Make sure to share your agenda with your employee in advance to give them a chance to review it before the meeting.
You can use a one on one meeting agenda template to generate ideas for the meeting and customize it according to your needs.
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11. Write action items for the next meeting
Every one on one meeting should end with clear action items for the next meeting. This will make you and your employee both accountable because you'll have to follow up on these action items in the next meeting.
Every meeting should conclude with a summary of what both of you discussed and what to look forward to in your next one-on-ones.
Check out this video on how to improve team accountability and follow-up on adam.ai:
➕ You might also want to watch out for these mistakes in one-on-one meetings.
The bottom line
One on one meetings are crucial in creating a strong bond between the manager and each employee, and having recurring one on one meetings is the best way to maintain an open conversation with your employees.
Try out the tips mentioned in this article to make your one on one meetings more effective. We recommend using an all-in-one meeting management solution to conduct your recurring one on ones and maintain all your files, documents, notes, decisions, and action items in one place.
Here are a few reasons to consider adam.ai:
adam.ai is ranked a leader in the meeting management software category by G2 for both quarters, Summer 2021 and Winter 2021.
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