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Kate Devyatkina

CEO at 100pcnt

August 21, 2019How to

A One-On-One Meeting. The Best and the Worst Ways to Conduct Them

One on one meetings give employees an opportunity to share about the things that are bothering them, or talk about whether there are any challenges that they are encountering. It’s an awesome opportunity to sit down with the boss and have exclusive access to his experience, expertise and attention.

Not every employee or manager considers one on one meetings important in their performance management strategy. That’s why here I’ll explain the how and the why of this critical business practice and provide you with a 1 to 1 meeting template. 

  • Try not to skip them

    Most managers are responsible either for supporting several team members to achieve the objectives as well as working towards their own goals. When they're under pressure, it may sound like a good idea to cancel such meetings to have more time to work on meeting deadlines for personal projects.
    There are three purposes of one on ones:
    - Offering support
    - Realignment
    - Relationship building 

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    Nothing could be further from the truth. Unsolved employee performance issues won't just disappear. Ignoring your team can lead to a real disaster:
    - A cancelled 15-20 minute conversation with an employee for a performance feedback provision can lead to a flooded inbox. Mailing is inefficient and can end up costing more time than a simple one on one conversation.
    - Ignoring emails could lead to employees being on the watch for you outside your office, trying to catch you during your walk to the kitchen. All these distractions may affect your ability to stay in flow and to complete your work objectives.

    - Without adequate guidance (you’ll find out how to provide it with the 1 on 1 meeting template written below) employees may cause a problem in the workplace leading to twice as much wasted time. 

    - What can deteriorate team morale and relationships? Sending messages that are not a priority and not worth taking the time to provide performance feedback.

  • Come well-prepared

    1 on 1s are totally indispensable for employee performance management. How can you handle them in an efficient way?

    The meeting can be spent resolving problems in the workplace, if:
    - managers are able to request that tracking documents are updated in advance of meetings
    - reports on some actions are sent in advance so that you can review them quickly

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    When employees answer important feedback questions (e.g. what challenges are you facing?) and share relevant information before the meeting, both employees and the manager are well-prepared for the discussion.

  • Organize your agenda right way

    When organizing staff meeting agendas, don’t forget to structure them in the right way depending on the preferences and needs of you and your report. 

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    For your convenience, try to group these items into the next categories:
    - Discuss this week
    - Leave for later
    - Wins and Roadblocks
    - Action items
    - Goals

  • Listen before speaking

    Ideally, begin your one on one meeting agenda by asking an employee what is going on instead of providing reflections or making assumptions about his/her performance. Listen and try to make an employee feel seen and supported. Also try to impress upon the employee that their efforts are helping the company to grow. This will serve to revitalize their sense of fulfillment. 
    Of course, an open-ended question like, “what’s going on” may not be best for all employees. If the person is reluctant to share or is so talkative that they veer away from the essentials, ask more pointed questions to get directly to the heart of the matter. In the one on one meeting, it really pays off when you ask what they want to discuss ahead of time.

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    Let’s take a closer look at a one on one meeting template. Here are our suggested points:
    - How are you doing?
    - How did your past day/week/month go?
    - What would you like to talk about?
    - What are you proud of?
    - Is there something blocking you?
    - How can I help you?
    - Do you need any support?
    = Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?

    This one on one template is created to help team members and managers to build a relationship of trust, resolve issues early on, and celebrate wins.

    The reality is that managing people can be accomplished via communication software, over email, or through team meetings and company-wide meetings. But one-on-ones have a particular value that can’t be replaced. Actually, the most common mistake among managers regarding one-on-one meetings is not holding them at all.

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