How to Have the Best One-on-One Meetings

Meetings can be a major time-suck and a massive waste of resources. But done right, regular one-on-one meetings between an employee and manager can make the difference between dysfunction and success.

On the Popforms blog, Kate Stull shares ten solid tips for having amazing one-on-one meetings, including:

Let the employee create the agenda and run the meeting. You don’t know what your employee needs or wants to talk about most, because you can’t read their mind. Which is why you shouldn’t be setting the meeting agenda for your 1:1s; they should. . .

Ask, don’t tell. A good 1:1 is an opportunity for your employee to get value from you, but that doesn’t mean you should do all the talking. Instead, you should be listening 90% of the time. Use questions to push the conversation along, and to help your employee find their own answers. Listening is a powerful tool for empowering people; when you listen, you show respect to your team, which builds trust. . .

Take at least 30 minutes for each 1:1. Whether or not the employee actually walks in needing all 30 minutes, it’s better to give people extra space, rather than to tell them right off the bat that you only have a certain amount of time for them and you are counting down. . .

Split time between personal and work. At the start of every 1:1, as simple as it may seem, it’s great to start out with a general, “How are you?”. People don’t get asked very often how things are going by someone who is really listening. So simply giving your full attention to someone when they are telling you about their week is a great way to kick off your 1:1s on the right foot…. Finding out you both saw the same movie this weekend is just as effective a way to build rapport as talking about what you’re both working on this week.

The power of one-on-ones lies in their facilitation of ongoing small-dose communication. They offer the opportunity to give and receive feedback in a low-pressure setting and to get aligned on goals and priorities. Email, online chat, project management software, and phone calls transmit everyday communication between employees and managers, yes. But no technology can replace a dedicated face-to-face catch-up for keeping a work relationship well-oiled and fruitful.