One-on-one meetings are about making sure the employee is happy, productive and also to uncover personal and professional challenges. But how do you get the most out of these crucial conversations? Hand the 10 tips below over to your managers to improve the quality of their one-on-ones!
Send Out The Topics Before The Meeting
Knowing what you want to talk about will make sure you don't digress to other topics and keep your focus. You should also let them know what topics you want to cover and even what questions you will be asking. This will make sure the person will be prepared and there won't be any void answers.
Ask At Least One Question About Personal Growth
You can talk about a lot of different topics during your one-on-one/check-in. However, you should always include at least one question about personal growth. It's important for your team member to know that you want them to grow personally and that you want to help them reach that goal.
It's normal to be a little bit uncomfortable at first because one-on-one meetings are very personal. If you are not feeling 100% comfortable, you could start by building your check-in skills step by step by asking the following questions:
- What skills can I help you improve to reach your personal goals?
- Are there any work-related activities that you would change, so they are more in line with the things you love doing?
- What do you like about your current responsibilities?
- Are your expectations being met?
If you feel right at home during check-in conversations, you can ask more profound questions such as:
- In what way would a new role expand your knowledge and skills?
- Do you believe you can achieve your full potential here?
- In what direction would you like your current responsibilities to go?
- What's a realistic timeframe to reach your career goals?
Let Your Employee Determine The Agenda
When employees set the agenda, they will take ownership and choose the topics they really want to talk about during that check-in. They will reflect on their progress, their challenges and how they're feeling in general. As a result, they will be more prepared and say everything they wanted to say.
Make sure you are fully present in the meeting. Do not chat with other coworkers or answer your phone during the check-in. When you do not pay attention you send the message that the person in front of you is not a priority. This can greatly deteriorate your relationship. Your full attention should be going towards the person in front of you so that they feel they matter and are truly being heard!
Do Not Catch Up On Current Projects
You should talk about development feedback on current projects and how someone's evolving. As a manager, it's important you reflect on a person's progress in a project. However, you have to keep your development feedback meetings separated from your check-ins. If you don't, you might not keep your focus and lose the core of the conversation.
Take notes during your one-on-one so that you know what you talked about, but also what actions need to be taken.
You can also take notes when you're not having a check-in so that you don't forget what you want to address in that meeting. Additionally, you should also always write a clear note at the end of the meeting with expectations. This way you can both mentally sign off what you've discussed. If you want to you can also send a summary from the check-in via e-mail.
Ask For Upward Feedback
Always ask for feedback about yourself (the manager) and the company in general. This will help you grow as a manager and shows that you encourage employees to give their opinion.
Questions you could ask are:
- How comfortable do you feel around the senior management team?
- Name one thing our company can improve regarding our communication.
- What kind of organisational culture brings out the best in you?
- Are you sufficiently recognised for your work by the organisation?
- What would you prioritise if you were me?
We dedicated an entire blog to managers with insightful survey questions you can ask them. Read it here!
Have Monthly One-On-Ones
Having check-in conversations every month has a deep impact on the way your team works. Committing to having these meetings every month will make sure you always know the pulse of your team and will spot opportunities and problems in time. This will also create open and regular communication which will, as a result, create trust between you and your employees.
Hold Your Check-ins Outside
Instead of having your check-in in a meeting room, have them outside or go for lunch from time to time. Not having your check-in on company ground can make it feel less formal and as a result, interaction will be more open.
Have A Fixed Time Slot
Block one morning or afternoon every week for check-in meetings. Your team can plan these meetings or you can do it yourself. Making time every week for personal check-ins shows that your team is your priority at all times and leaves no room for last-minute cancelling.
Lengthy meetings can be very tiring and after a while, you lose your focus. A good timeframe is to talk about 3 different topics each for 15 minutes. Then you still have 15 minutes left for an informal catch up about the person's life outside of work to show that you genuinely care or to talk about something that wasn't on the agenda.
Use these 10 tips next time you are having a check-in conversation with one of your team members for a more productive and profound meeting. Happy chatting!