One-on-one meetings are a critical component of building team relationships, providing feedback and achieving team goals, and with proper preparation, they can be an effective trust-building tool. In this blog, we’ll review the key elements of an effective one-on-one meeting and provide a step-by-step guide to ensure you’re fully prepared to make your meetings more productive, and fulfilling. Let’s dive in!
The purpose of a one-on-one meeting
One-on-one meetings can be a powerful tool for building stronger relationships between a manager and their direct reports. As mentioned above, these meetings offer a valuable opportunity to provide big-picture feedback, set goals and discuss any challenges that may be impacting work performance. For managers, one-on-one meetings can help them better understand their employees’ career aspirations, strengths and areas for improvement. For direct reports, these meetings provide a place to share their perspectives, receive guidance and voice their concerns. In this section, we’ll explore some possibilities of what you can achieve through regular one-on-one meetings between a manager and their direct report:
- Improved communication: Set the tone of your meeting with honesty and compassion. Share your thoughts, listen actively and practice empathy in manager-employee meetings. Encouraging a two-way conversation allows everyone to navigate potentially choppy waters.
- Goal alignment: Come prepared with past performance review meetings in mind. Discuss past goals, celebrate achievements and identify growth areas. Make a path that ensures everyone is focused on working toward big-picture goals.
- Enhanced accountability: Keep your team on the right track with regular check-ins to evaluate progress and hold everyone accountable.
- Proactive problem-solving: Let your entrepreneurial instincts take the wheel by identifying potential challenges early on, brainstorming solutions and discussing deadlines for resolution.
- Greater employee engagement: Take a moment to embrace the human side of your team by sharing personal stories, discussing challenges and celebrating victories together.
- Foster creativity & innovation: Use meeting agenda tips to turn your 1:1 meetings into incubators for new ideas. Break the norms, encourage big thinking and let your creative ideas flow!
- Conflict resolution: One-on-one meetings are prime opportunities to address any lurking conflicts, nip misunderstandings in the bud and maintain a harmonious working environment.
The preparation and hosting checklist
- Schedule the meeting: Block off dedicated time on your calendar! Ideally, these meetings should be scheduled at regular intervals to establish a consistent cadence.
- Prepare an agenda: Develop an agenda that includes discussion topics and action items. Share the agenda with your direct report or supervisor in advance to give them time to prepare and add any topics they wish to discuss.
- Create a comfortable environment: Choose a location that is private and free from distractions. If the meeting is virtual, ensure that you have a stable internet connection and that the audio, and video quality is good.
- Start with rapport-building: Begin the meeting with an icebreaker, asking how your direct report or supervisor is doing and sharing any updates they have. This helps establish a positive tone for the meeting and demonstrates that you care.
- Discuss progress: Review progress against any goals or action items from the previous meeting. This helps keep everyone accountable and ensures that progress is being made.
- Solicit feedback: Ask your teammate for feedback on your performance or how you can support them better. This creates an open and honest conversation and helps identify areas for improvement.
- Identify any challenges: As mentioned above, discuss any challenges that are impacting work performance and brainstorm potential solutions. This helps demonstrate that you’re invested in their success and are willing to support them.
- Establish action items: Identify action items and set deadlines for completion. Make sure that everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is expected of them.
- Recap: Summarize the discussion and action items at the end of the meeting.
- Follow-up: Record meeting minutes and periodically review previous discussions to track progress. We’ll get into this more in the next section.
- Remember to have fun: Inject a bit of lightheartedness into your meetings. Share stories, jokes or icebreakers to strengthen personal bonds and make meetings enjoyable.
How to follow up on your one-on-one meetings
Now that you have a handful of actionable tactics, it’s time to put your one-on-one meeting checklist into action. Here’s a quick rundown of follow-up steps to ensure smooth sailing afterward:
- Schedule regular check-ins: Depending on your team size and individual needs, schedule weekly, biweekly, monthly or quarterly one-on-one meetings. Consistency is key to reaping the rewards of effective 1:1 meetings.
- Send a thank-you message: Start by thanking your peer for their time and any insights or feedback they provided during the meeting. This is a simple way to show your appreciation and build a positive working relationship.
- Review your notes: Take some time to review the notes you took during the meeting. This will help you remember the key points discussed and any action items that were assigned.
- Prioritize action items: Identify the most important action items that were discussed during the meeting and prioritize them according to urgency and importance.
- Create a plan for achieving your goals: If there were any goals or objectives discussed during the meeting, create a plan for achieving them. This plan should include specific actions, milestones and deadlines for completion.
- Communicate progress: Keep your supervisor or direct report updated on your progress towards achieving your goals and completing the action items. This could be through email, a status report or during your next one-on-one meeting.
- Track progress: Use a tracking tool, such as a spreadsheet or project management software, to keep track of your progress. This is key to staying organized and motivated to achieve your goals.
- Schedule the next one-on-one meeting: Before ending the meeting, schedule the next one-on-one meeting. This ensures you maintain regular communication and that any issues or concerns can be addressed in a timely manner.
- Seek feedback: Solicit your team’s input on your one-on-one meetings, their effectiveness and areas for improvement. Use this insight to continuously tweak your meetings for the most impact.
How does confidence affect your meetings?
A confident manager communicates more clearly, has better rapport with employees and encourages more transparency, which results in more open and honest two-way communication. In contrast, if a manager exhibits a lack of confidence, it can create tensions, causing employees to hold back their thoughts or feedback, negatively impacting the quality of your one-on-one meeting. In these meetings, a manager who is not confident can make employees feel uncomfortable or unappreciated, which can result in inadequate or poorly received feedback. When employees feel valued, validated and heard by their manager, they have higher engagement levels, improved productivity and better performance. These meetings should include active listening, empathy, collaborative problem-solving and goal-setting, all of which are facilitated by confident team members.
Strategies to boost your confidence in one-on-one meetings
Here are some actionable strategies to help boost your confidence as a manager or direct report during one-on-one meetings:
- Come prepared: As mentioned above, prepare an agenda or talking points that outline discussion topics before the meeting. Being well-prepared will help you feel more confident during the meeting and ensure that you touch on all the essential topics in the allotted time.
- Practice active listening: Focus on active listening. Make good eye contact, nod in agreement or ask occasional questions as they’re speaking. This approach will keep you engaged in the conversation and demonstrate your interest in what your team member has to say.
- Ask questions: Asking questions is one of the most effective ways to show confidence. It shows you’re curious, interested and invested in the conversation’s outcome. It also helps you seek clarity, identify concerns and set goals along the way.
- Be assertive when you need to: It’s okay to express your opinion or discomfort if it’s relevant to the discussion. However, you must be mindful of how you deliver the message and allow the discussion to continue on a positive note.
- Do a post-meeting reflection: After each one-on-one meeting, take a few minutes to reflect on what went well, improvements that could be made and how you could build on these in the next meeting. It will allow you to track progress, improve self-awareness and develop confidence.
Remember, the purpose of a one-on-one meeting is to establish open communication and build a strong working relationship. Following these steps can help you make the most of these meetings, and tracking your progress can help you stay on track toward achieving your goals.