Ask a Boss: 1:1 meetings

1:1 meetings

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Hi all! I have been in leadership for about 6 years now and found lately that I am really struggling with how to continue to have meaningful, relevant, effective 1:1s with my teammates. We go over career progression, goals, how they are feeling about work life balance….what’s working, what’s not…..but they seem to feel repetitive sometimes. Any suggestions on what I could incorporate or change up? I do promote non related work talk as well…. for those that want that. Just looking to shift things up to keep it engaging. All advice is appreciated!! Thank you!!

~Submitted by Lisa

Bosstrack Mentor Response

Hi Lisa! I’ve totally experienced that same thing! I’ve found that resetting the purpose of the meeting from “my time” to “their time” can create a big shift. They can prepare the agenda and use that time as they want, you can be a sounding board, help them to prioritize, listen to what they’re the most proud of etc. The other thing I’ve noticed if the flow is getting stale it may be time to give them a new problem to solve. Can they take on a stretch assignment? Help you think of creative solutions to a problem and share with you? By serving up a growth opportunity you could likely guarantee something to talk about!

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY AND RESOURCES

What is a 1:1 meeting?

A 1:1 meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar for open-ended and planned conversation between you and your teammate. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting (for your team member – not you). The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.

THERE ARE MULTIPLE PURPOSES FOR 1:1 MEETINGS

Dedicated time to ask questions

Your teammates might be apprehensive about bringing a question up throughout the week because you seem busy and/or they feel their question’ might not be’s not a priority. Having a 1:1 on the calendar gives them the time with you they need to ask important yet non-urgent questions.

Building trust and connection

The 1:1 meeting gives you time to interact socially with your team, especially if they’re working remotely and you can’t just bump into them in the break room for a quick chat. During your 1:1 meeting, ask them how they’ve been, what they’ve been up to, how their family’s doing. And share what you’ve been up to as well. Even if your time together ends up being 15-20 minutes of you chatting about your lives outside of work, it was well worth the time taken to boost trust and build your relationship with them.

Improve performance

There might be some things you observed about your team member during the week that didn’t seem significant enough to bring up immediately, but valuable enough to discuss for their continued development. Make note of these small things throughout the week and provide the feedback during your 1:1 meeting.

Increase team agility and adaptability

1:1 meetings give your team an opportunity to identify and address blockers, challenges, and issues with you. They also give your team an opportunity to pivot if goals or objectives become outdated, so your team can remain agile and adapt as business needs change.

HOW TO START YOUR 1:1 MEETING

If you’re feeling awkward when starting your conversation if you have nothing specific to discuss, just ask:

  • How are you feeling?
  • What’s on your mind?
  • What are you most excited about?
  • What are you most worried about?

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ABOUT 1:1 MEETINGS

Above all else – listen!! Actively. This is your time to really hear what’s going on with and build trust with the people on your team. Beyond listening, make sure you:

  • Affirm their perspective first
  • Share your weaknesses, and places where you’ve stumbled
  • Be unconditionally on their side, especially when giving them direct feedback about opportunities for growth
  • If you’re both in the office, consider heading out of the office for your meeting to change up the scenery
  • Respect them as a person, not just an employee; treat them as a peer
  • Make these meetings your priority – with busy schedules, it can be tempting to reschedule or cancel given there’s another one on the calendar for next week. Don’t do it!

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