Modern management techniques rely heavily on empowering employees, which makes it a more inclusive and effective leadership model in the long run. And nothing will accomplish this faster than engaging in productive 1-on-1 meetings with your team members.
Militaristic, authoritative, dictatorial and autocratic management styles have slowly become outdated as businesses embraced a more holistic employment ethic. Sadly, they are still being practiced by some old-school leaders, much to the detriment of Human Resources and Talent Acquisition departments. While it creates a potentially toxic working environment, it also contributes to high staff attrition rates.
It was inevitable that a subtler management style would become the business norm. Remote working arrangements expedited this transitional phase, simply because leaders had to work around limited engagement with their teams, while being conscious about their mental health, working environment, etc. In the office, it might have been easy to spot someone dealing with personal or work pressures. Remotely, however, leaders were forced to make the most of their one-on-one engagements to gauge the productivity and well-being of each team member.
Why are 1-on-1 meetings important?
Every human has a fundamental need to be seen and heard. One-on-one meetings serve as an opportunity to achieve this. In person, remotely or virtually, it creates belongingness and stability. It also creates a safe space to listen and share. By having regular 1:1 meetings, we send the right message of availability, attention, and disposition, while encouraging positive communication and strengthening the trust relationship between company and employee.
This is a golden opportunity to review team and individual performance more closely. It also provides the time and space to give feedback, discuss career aspirations and personal goals, as well as monitoring progress, guidance on next steps, and assessing the mental health of the team member.
From a scheduling standpoint, 30-60 minutes a week should suffice and not affect company productivity. From a culture standpoint, a seen, heard, and supported team member is a more productive team member. Topics addressed during dedicated one-on-one’s are more likely to have a positive and desired outcome. It encourages focus on specific tasks and personal engagement towards performance and completion.
The benefits of one-on-ones
One-on-one meetings with team members can certainly help leaders to grow. As you become more proficient at engaging with employees on an individual basis, you will also become masterful at creating comfortable and engaging work environments, which is worth gold to any organization. The more prominent benefits of one-on-one meetings include:
- Connecting with team members without any interruptions
- Obtaining updates or give support on difficult work situations and scenarios
- Gaining clarity about the team’s scope to perform and meet targets or deadlines
- Establishing a culture of engagement and healthy, open discussion
- Foster a trust relationship between the company and the employee
Preparing for and conducting one-on-one meetings
Similar to conducting interviews, it is important to prepare for your meetings. Whether you prefer to conduct these sessions with or without an agenda, there must be a clear purpose and an expected outcome, even if the sole purpose is to provide employees with an avenue to express themselves.
Leaders should be aware of the feedback they intend to share and substantiate where possible. You can create an environment of empowerment by encouraging team members to engage openly and to take psychological ownership of their performance or personal growth. This is their time and, as such, they should be doing most of the talking.
Ask engaging open-ended questions, such as:
- Aside from work, how are you doing at the moment?
- Is there anything affecting your well-being and engagement at work?
- Where do you feel you have performed well?
- What achievements are you proudest of?
- What do you want to focus on in the coming weeks/months/quarter?
- Which of your personal goals relate to your work goals?
- What do you enjoy about your work?
- What happens for you on a great day at work?
Some Do’s and Don’ts when planning one-on-one’s
Create a cadence of regular or consistent one-on-one meetings. Not only will team members gain confidence to open with each meeting, but they will start relying on this opportunity to engage. Try not to change up your meetings with different approaches every time you connect with employees. Consistency creates a comfortable and predictable environment.
Prepare an agenda or talking points for each session. It helps to have a specific purpose or goal to achieve during the interaction. Being unprepared could send employees the message that you are not committed to the time you have set aside for them. If you are always prepared, they will follow suit.
A good mental preparation for meetings can be to memorize this: be quick to ask questions, quick to listen, and slow to answer. Of these three points, the second point often gets overlooked. The art of listening intently and whole-heartedly to someone else, is something that can take years to master. If your mouth is open, you are not listening. Where you are unable to digest or fully grasp what is being said, ask clarifying questions.
Be present and be real
While being reserved, attentive, alert and engaging during the one-on-one, it is also incredibly important to be yourself. Be confident of the message and the tone of your meeting. You are not interrogating a convict or filming a wildlife documentary. You are touching sides with a fellow team member and this time together could help the team or company to secure a big deal. Feign your interest and the person on the other end will feel it.
Turn off your phone, mute email and chat pings, and let everyone know your time is booked for someone else. Distractions can interrupt the flow of a potentially powerful brainstorming session. An annoying dog, a vibrating cell phone or a painting crew running around in the background can do more damage than good.
- Make it all about work (There is life outside of work, you know?)
- Rush through a meeting (Even Superman knows when to take it slow.)
- Try to be the hero (There’s no i in team, right?)
- Participate in personal or sensitive conversations that could be interpreted as inappropriate
How to gauge if your 1-on-1 was a success
The aim should be foremost for the benefit of team members, and as such, employees should get maximum value from the conversation, whether for improvement in performance, personal growth, or development. To measure one-on-one effectiveness, leaders should rate themselves by considering these two statements from the employee’s perspective:
- I feel I can talk with my manager about personal issues
- I feel I can approach my manager with any type of work-related question
Consider your one-on-one meetings a tremendous success if they inadvertently turn into coaching sessions. A curious, aspiring and motivated team member is an asset to any organization. Their desire to know more will stimulate a similar curiosity within the team.
Impact-inspired one-on-one meetings
Boldr has taken great care to incorporate a holistic approach to conducting meetings: one that makes space for the heart, mind, body, and soul. The leadership team sees these sessions as golden opportunities to engage, connect and share, instead of solely focusing on performance. We believe that improved productivity is a consequence of a healthy company culture, not the other way around. When we build global teams for our clients, this sentiment lies at the forefront of our talent acquisition strategy. If you want to know more about our approach to one-on-one meetings, you can reach out to us here.