One-on-one meetings between managers and employees are essential for building strong working relationships, fostering productivity, and supporting employee development. However, without a clear structure and purpose, these meetings can easily devolve into unproductive venting sessions or missed opportunities. I thought it would be useful to put together some ideas and strategies I often suggest to my clients to ensure that 1:1 meetings are effective, engaging, and focused on both problem-solving and growth.
Create an Agenda Together
Collaborate with your team to create a meeting agenda. Discuss the purpose of the 1:1 and define what a successful meeting would look like. While the ultimate ownership of the agenda lies with the employee, it is important for you, as the manager, to be prepared and understand the meeting’s objectives. By establishing a clear agenda, you can prevent the meeting from turning into an unstructured agony aunt session and ensure that all relevant topics are addressed.
Record Conclusions and Actions
As with any meeting, it is crucial to record the conclusions and actionable items discussed during the 1:1. This helps to prevent circular discussions and ensures accountability. Make sure that each participant understands their responsibilities and the agreed-upon actions. By documenting outcomes, you create a valuable reference point for future meetings and track progress on action items.
Incorporate a Quantitative Assessment
To kickstart productive discussions in a 1:1, consider using a quantitative question that allows employees to reflect on their performance. For example, ask them to rate their productivity on a scale of 1 to 10 for the week. This numerical rating provides a starting point to explore the reasons behind their self-assessment. It opens the door for constructive conversations about challenges, accomplishments, and potential improvements.
Wrap Up with a GROW Approach
The GROW coaching model—Goals, Reality, Options, What’s next—is an effective framework for guiding 1:1 conversations and supporting employee development.
Goals: Begin by determining the goals of the conversation. What specific outcomes do you want to achieve? Why is it important to address these issues or situations?
Reality: Understand the current reality or context. Discuss what is working well and what might be blocking progress. Encourage open and honest communication to identify areas for improvement.
Options: Explore different options for moving forward. Encourage employees to share their thoughts on what they have already tried, brainstorm alternative approaches, and consider fresh ideas.
What’s Next: Finally, define the actions and decisions that will be taken based on the discussion. Clarify who is responsible for each action item, establish timelines, and discuss the reasons behind the chosen course of action.
Celebrate the Positive: While it is important to address challenges and problem areas during 1:1 meetings, don’t overlook the positives. Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate successes, accomplishments, and the “good stuff” that the employee is doing. By highlighting and encouraging more of what’s working well, you create a supportive environment that focuses on growth and motivation.
1:1 meetings deserve some real thought and careful planning from both the manager and team member, active participation, and a focus on both problem-solving and growth.
Hopefully by using some of the above ideas and incorporating a structured approach, you can ensure that your meetings are productive, engaging, and contribute to the development of your employees. Remember to collaborate on the agenda, record conclusions and actions, incorporate quantitative assessments, use the GROW approach, and celebrate the positive aspects.
Hope this helps.
P.S – if you’re interested in ideas for how to lead better online meetings for better remote teamwork, this article from Office Vibe has some good suggestions including:
- Understand the challenges your remote team is facing, such as maintaining communication, alignment, dealing with technical difficulties, and finding new ways to collaborate.
- Connect with your remote team by sending engagement surveys to better understand their reality and sentiments.
- Prepare for remote meetings by considering if the meeting could be an email or a different form of communication, choosing the right tools and platforms, sending a meeting agenda, and scheduling meetings logically.
- During virtual meetings, set housekeeping rules, introduce new hires, encourage but don’t make it mandatory to turn on cameras, make time for small talk, take notes, inform attendees if the meeting is being recorded, give everyone an opportunity to speak, recognise effort and achievements, and keep the meeting engaging with icebreakers, polls, quizzes, and breakout rooms.
- After the meeting, schedule follow-ups, share a recap of the meeting’s main points, set action items and track goals, and seek feedback through custom surveys to improve future meetings.
- Understand the challenges your remote team faces and use that understanding to lead better online meetings that enhance remote teamwork and improve communication practices.