Employees are frustrated by managers constantly rescheduling or cancelling one to one meetings, making them feel unimportant and undervalued. On the other side of the story, managers feel the employees do not take the time and effort to prepare for the meetings to make them useful and effective.
So why even bother?
One of the most important leadership behaviors valued by the employees is respect. According to research, they particularly value owed respect that is shown to all employees equally and makes them feel included. Additionally, they value respect which recognizes their good work and efforts. And what is the best way to make employees feel respected, included and recognize their efforts? Take the time and effort to conduct a one to one meeting (1:1s) with them. It is imperative to build up a professional relationship between a manager and team member and spending real time with them is a key to it.
We have previously addressed how to recognize a good and bad one on one meeting from the perspective of an employee. Moreover, we have also covered how you as a manager should structure the meeting.
Cancelling your 1:1 meeting with your direct report will make you seem uninterested in their career development. It will also discourage their motivation and it can have negative influence on their performance. Thus, make sure you take the time to reschedule the meeting and do not cancel again.
Planning a meeting with your direct report is not difficult nor it takes a long time so there is no reason why you should not do it. What is the objective of the meeting? What do you need to discuss with your direct report? Think through the main discussion points. Are there any issues you need to address?
In line with that, as a manager you should take a lead on the meeting. Setting meeting agendas is a key for effective 1:1s. You should write down topics you want to discuss and prepare questions for the employee.
The meeting should be a collaborative effort of you and your direct report. Share the agenda you have prepared at least a day before the meeting. That way they will have time to prepare and put the effort in on their side.
When in the meeting ask the questions you have prepared but more importantly, listen to what your employee has to say. Active listening is an essential part for being able to take actions based on the meeting. Take a pause, wait for an answer. Give your employee space and time to think through their answers and actually listen to what they are saying.
Take notes. Write down the insights the meeting has brought and important items to follow up. Additionally, write down personal notes you might not necessarily want to share with your direct report. Think back on your career and professional experience and how can that reflect on the development of your employee.
Make sure to make your employee feel comfortable and ease into the meeting with more light weighted or informal questions. Ask them how they are feeling? How their day has been? Show interest in their wellbeing.
Once you have ensured your employee is comfortable, you should revisit their goals and objectives. Are they on the right track with their short and long term goals? Are they facing any challenges? Do they require any additional support? In this part of the meeting you should address not only your employee’s individual career goals but also the departmental and team goals.
Check how your employee feels in regard to other team members. Is there anything they feel like should be adjusted? What works and what does not work in your organization?
As once smartly said; people do not leave jobs, they leave toxic work cultures.
One to one is a great opportunity for you to recognize the efforts of your employee and show appreciation. Highlight their achievements since your last meeting. Show that you are aware of their hard work and appreciate it.
An essential part of a 1:1 meeting is creating an action plan of what needs to be done as a result of the meeting. Create or at least, discuss clear action items the employee needs to take in order to progress.
It is a great chance for you to ask for feedback on your management style and you being a team member. The meeting should not only be a chance for the employee to develop, but also for you as a manager to up-skill.
Remember your employees are human. If you show them compassion and empathy, they are much more likely to share their feelings and opinions if you if they feel comfortable.
Ask your employee to dedicate 15 to 30 minutes after the meeting to self-reflection. Make them explore how do they feel, what went right and wrong. Self-reflection is an essential skill for growth. Also, take the time to reflect on the meeting yourself. What steps can you take to grow as a mentor and manager? What coaching methods suit the best this particular employee? How can you help them reach their potential?
For the one to ones to be effective long term, they need to happen on regular basis. Don't forget to schedule another meeting on a weekly/monthly/bi-monthly basis. Additionally, don’t wait for the next meeting if there are items that require status updates, show your interest and take ation to imporve the performance of your direct reports and their job satisfaction.
So there you have it, 15 points for a successful one to one meeting. Ensure to shedule them on a regular basis and do not take them just like another task on your to do list. It is a chance to connect with your employees and get to know them. Enjoy!
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