One-on-one meetings are perhaps one of the most vital contact points you have with your team members. As a conscious business leader, one of your goals should be to invest in your people, right? So then this means knowing their strengths, opportunities, and what they need from you to be their best. This sort of information rarely presents itself in casual conversation though and if you don’t have 1:1s on the calendar, that means you’re relying on figuring out this information as you go… which may not only take a while, but may involve some major misses or mistakes in the process. Yikes.
So first – make sure you’re having 1:1s. A lot of leaders have forgone this practice (or make them so infrequent that then they only happen when there’s bad news or something big – which is defeats the purpose).
Next, here are some ideas on how to structure them and modernize them so that they’re efficient, impactful, and not stiff or corporate-y. Gross.
What Are 1:1s?
One-on-one meetings are regularly-scheduled, individual check-ins that you have with your team members to get updates, answer questions, offer support, and manage their performance.
Although they’re consistently on the calendar—don’t worry—-this isn’t meant to be another item on your already full plate! Although you, as the manager, are involved in every meeting, the scheduling and ownership of these meetings doesn’t fall on your shoulders.
Once you’ve established what you want these meetings to be like, have your team members schedule and run them. Both people have the floor to address issues, but your team member should be creating the agenda and leading the meeting.
What’s the Value?
We live in a fast-paced world. For CEOs and executives in particular, you’re often pulled in a million different directions at once. One-on-ones are regular meetings that give you a chance to connect with your key people, coach them, give and receive critical information, get involved or intervene if need be, and ensure you’re in the know.
These 1:1s exist in the space between a casual conversation and a performance review.
There’s a ton of value created for your team members, too. First, these types of meetings create a leadership development opportunity where your team member gets to lead the way. It also could help to remove any anxiety surrounding more ‘formal’ meetings if they’re more junior. And lastly, it gives them an understanding of your managerial style and a behind-the-scenes view into your brain and how you problem-solve. The more they understand you and how you think about the things, the better they can produce what you’re looking for. This understanding can lead to more independence from your team, better performance, and more alignment between you and them. You basically shorten the learning curve by giving them access to you.
How to *Modernize* Your 1:1s
Let’s face it—if it’s not convenient, it’s not happening. That goes for anything from food delivery services and Amazon Prime to virtual coaching.
As a leader, it’s important that you modernize your 1:1 sessions through technology, efficient and clear processes, and overall value. Here’s a framework for even the busiest folks:
1. Make them fast: The more frequently you meet, the faster they can be. Tell your team to schedule them for 30-minutes to start.
2. Create the structure: Here’s a sample agenda to help you get started! Remember your team member is running this, so this is a sample agenda they can use to structure the meeting. They’ll give their information first and then the last bullet is all yours:
- Key updates
- Recent wins
- Recent challenges
- I need help with…
- Updates from you, the leader
3. Make sure they happen consistently: We get it. You’re really busy. But don’t blow off these meetings. Having them on the calendar gives you both the opportunity to share information, work through any issues that may have arisen, and stay connected. These meetings should be considered almost sacred to you. Why? Because the more senior you are in an organization, the harder it is to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s taking place in the company. These meetings are a chance to hear directly from your people what’s working, what’s not, and if / where you need to help remedy.
4. Use technology to simplify: Ahh, yes! Cheers to the digital age. There are so many ways to make your life easier through technology. If you’re curious how to structure your 1:1s with technology, there are many note-taking apps that will seamlessly integrate your live notes to your computer/laptop or phone.
Take a look at Lattice, a performance management tool which beyond goal setting & reviews, also gives you the ability to add to, edit, and make notes on your agenda (before, during and after the session). Another great app is Voxer, which gives you the ability to leave voice notes to yourself, team members, or clients directly on the app. Or this notebook I love—it even has a template for OKRs and an app that connects to your electronics!
Ready to have more meaningful sessions?! Good! Now that you know how to structure your 1:1s and make sure they’re a bit more up-to-date, you can effectively and purposely meet with your team.
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