It’s a fundamental rule of leadership that to manage others; it is imperative to practice frequent and interactive communication. A one on one meeting is a communication forum in a company from the manager to employee and vice versa.
When one conducts such a meeting, the feeling of involvement and appreciation increases, more productive questions arise, and it creates room for brainstorming and collaboration. It is also a great way for managers and directors to ensure that business goals are being met. Here are seven practical tips for planning and running a productive one on one meeting.
1: Regular but Short
The frequency of which an organization can hold one on one meetings will vary depending on: the size of the team, how experienced your employees are and the size of the company. Although it’s an excellent idea to catch up with staff, it might be difficult to allocate the time for the meeting. It’s natural that something else might come up and disrupt the frequency.
Therefore, experiment with several frequencies, find a rhythm, create a schedule and stick to it. Specialists recommend you organize and hold this type of meeting at least once every month and no more than once a week. It should not last more than one hour. You don’t want to waste time and bore your staff members with lengthy and unproductive meetings.
2: Discussion Points
As the supervisor, you might feel that you should draft the agenda ahead of time. But, when it comes to one-ones, it’s important to let employees develop the discussion points. Of course, you are allowed to set some guidelines to ensure that the meeting is productive. Then again, putting your employees into the focus helps them feel ownership for their work and time.
It’s a symbolic practice of telling your staff that they matter. Though 1-on-1s don’t need to have fixed meeting minutes, you should send outlines or discussion points in advance. Preferably 24 hours before the 1-on-1 meeting. This will ensure that everyone is aware of what is to be said and what the next session will cover.
3: Be Present
Be on time because being late is disrespectful. Moreover, if you need to cancel the meeting especially when there is nothing to talk about, don’t wait until the last minute. When you attend a one on one meeting, you need to give your team our full and uninterrupted presence. Don’t think of the session as another task you need to complete.
Instead, think of it as a time to connect. Mute your phone, tablet, and computer to avoid being distracted. Attend the meeting focused and committed. When there are many interruptions, and you are easily distracted, you send out a message that you don’t care much about those present and whatever is distracting you is more important. Devoting your full attention will make a huge impact.
4: Neutral Location and Informal
Never overthink a one on one meeting. It should involve a friendly and free conversation. Occasionally, plan to go for a walk, sit in the courtyard, get coffee, lunch or dinner. When holding a 1-on-one, it’s best to find a neutral location that is private and can facilitate a private conversation. Employees are often intimidated and sometimes even scared of their bosses.
Creating a relaxed atmosphere will put your staff member at ease allowing them to speak their minds. It’s probably easier to go into a conference or board room and get right into the meeting. But every once in a while, change the setting.
5: Let Employees Do Most of the Talking
A one on one meeting is where you listen more than you speak. You will learn more about your employees from listening than talking. On the surface, it can be frustrating for busy supervisors but remember, one of the main reasons for holding a 1-on-1 meeting is to develop and empower your employees. Provide your staff with an opportunity to vent about the issues they might be facing and let them ask for support.
You don’t just listen for the sake of being polite. Do it also to understand your employee’s insight and build a stronger collaboration with your team. However, it is easy to listen when you are at the moment only to forget after a meeting. Make sure that you aggressively take notes of what employees like and don’t like, the challenges they face, what drives them and so on.
6: Ask Questions
Although you should prioritize on listening to your team, it’s a good habit to ask for clarifications. Leaders should always be looking to grow the business, the team and themselves. Ask for feedback. Feel free to prompt your employees to answers questions during a one on one meeting.
Asking questions will give you an indication of negative and positive patterns in the organization. They also allow you to review performance against objectives and short-term goals. Sometimes, you can even start your meeting with informal catch-up questions. You can ask strategic questions such as:
- Do you think you are focused on the right target?
- What didn’t turn out as you expected?
- How should we approach this?
- What have you learned from this project?
- Are we on track to meet deadlines?
7: Express Gratitude
End the one on one meeting as you started it – with positivity. Closing a one on one meeting with a note of thanks and appreciation will mean a lot to your team. Be honest and authentic when expressing gratitude.
Your team will not only respect you but will strive to improve performance and always look forward to the next meeting. It will even support strategic thinking and proactivity because the team knows that their work is highly appreciated.
A one on one meeting can have an incredible impact on any business. They allow leaders and teams to be aligned, check on employee’s morale and talk about business growth. Through 1-on-1s, you get to know your team better and even allow you to get to the bottom of issues before it’s too late. Learn to plan and execute one on one meetings so you can let your employees know you value them.