Relationships between managers and employees are at the forefront of team success. Whether you’re a new manager or an experienced manager trying to improve your training sessions, establishing an efficient technique for holding one-on-one meetings with employees is among the most critical steps you can take as a leader. These meetings serve a greater purpose than simple follow-up meetings and provide excellent opportunities to build trusting relationships with team members, as well as allow you to provide timely feedback and coaching throughout the year. Through these types of meetings, employees have the opportunity to express their problems and objectives directly to their superiors.
Also, in one-on-one meetings, managers have the opportunity to tackle and deal with problems that crop before they compound it is too late to work on a solution.
Unfortunately, many organizations have not given this type of meeting and communication the necessary priority and are missing out on the benefits associated with strong manager-employee relationships. By adding structure to your one-on-one sessions, you can efficiently prepare for your meetings with your subordinates and use your time more effectively.
Here are the best practices for conducting one-on-one meetings with your team.
👉 1. Set a consistent schedule
Managers often make the mistake of arranging meetings with their team members and not sticking to it. Scheduling is indeed a very important aspect in the realm of one-on-one meetings with employees. Both managers and their team members need to collaborate together and make the meeting successful by showing up on time and sticking to the schedules.
One-on-one meetings at work can be scheduled at a range of different frequencies: weekly, monthly, or quarterly. While the quarterly is the least preferable and may coincide with the layout of the organization of quarterly review meetings at work for communication, weekly posts are the most promising and preferable time for these one-on-one meetings at work.
👉 2. Be well-prepared
While One-to-One meetings should be as informal as possible, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes preparing the structure of the meeting to make sure you cover the main topics. You must also reserve a margin for improvisation because you do not know what matters may arise during the conversation.
Drawing up an agenda for the one-on-one meeting in the first few minutes of the meeting is essential. It is important that the agenda is clear, precise, and, preferably, the one created by the employees themselves. This will allow them to have control over what they have to say, which will result in a worthwhile conversation. Once the employee prepares the agenda, they must test it and both parties must agree on it before continuing. This allows you to guide the meeting even more effectively. As a start, the agenda can be created based on the Plan, Progress, Problem (3P) methodology before progressing to items that are more people-centric such as Career Development.
👉 3. Discuss development needs and opportunities as well as day-to-day work
One-on-one meetings are a great opportunity to offer additional support or build a career development strategy, whether you have a struggling employee or a high-performing staff. Develop your mentoring skills by helping your employees find solutions to the problems they face, or by helping them develop a plan to grow in their careers.
This meeting is really the time for your collaborators to get your help, it shouldn’t be only about status reports (this can also be done via email or shared documents.). Consider their needs and put yourself in their situation, and you will develop the right framework for successful meetings.
👉 4. Actively listen and ask questions
It can be very frustrating for someone who has very little of their time, is stressed and feels rushed, to finally have a meeting and see them sit back and “listen” while doing three and four more things in turn. The same goes for virtual meetings these days, it is noticeable when a person is not present or is on their cell phone, turn on “video” mode if you’re in a virtual meeting and really engage with the person.
A big part of being present is letting them control the discussion and asking as many questions as you feel are necessary to properly understand the issues and to make sure the person knows you understand what they are saying.
If there are no specific topics to discuss, asking open-ended and just letting people talk is also a good way to learn about what’s going on and how they feel, so you can determine for yourself where and when you need to get involved.
Some help questions :
· What is something you like the most about working in this company?
· How do you feel about your work-life balance?
· Do you see any room for improvement in any aspect?
· What is your opinion concerning your goals here?
Today especially, what your collaborators need is not only resources, your direction and your patience but that you listen to them. That you really pay attention and understand what they are doing and the times they are going through.
👉 5. Discuss clear, precise measures and future steps
It is essential to make a summary of what happened and agreed. During the meeting, it is important to write down all the comments, the key ideas and the agreed decisions. Most companies wait two hours or two days after the end of the meeting to make a report listing the decisions and comments made by each collaborator. This implies that most of the information discussed falls into oblivion, either due to laziness or simple forgetfulness owing to lack of fresh information. If, during the meeting, the participants write in the agenda that they have previously prepared, all the decisions and the actions that are going to have to be carried out later, it will be much easier to follow up.
Nothing annoys people more than spending time in a meeting only to walk out of it feeling unclear who is going to do what (or when the task needs to be completed or how important it is).
At the end of each one-on-one session, document the next steps to be taken and the expected actions so they don’t disappear into limbo. You can choose to follow up on them at the next meeting or as they are completed so important items don’t get lost.
👉 6. Provide and receive valuable feedback
Give constructive feedback, so people know how they are doing and where they can improve. In the same way, you should be prepared to receive feedback yourself.
It’s also important to provide positive feedback when people are doing a great job. Avoid praising them too often, as you risk being seen as insincere, but make sure that when someone has done a great job, you show them your appreciation and let them know how much their work means to you and the team.
Following framework is recommended when giving constructive feedback;
· Begin with a positive attitude
· Be clear and specific
· Structure your feedback around a growth mentality
· Don’t overwhelm them with an avalanche of feedback
· Work on the solution as a team
· Follow up by acknowledging accomplishments
The ability to ask the proper questions and listen carefully is an important aspect of leadership.
One may come up with a brilliant solution and train the staff to look at their work critically if you have the correct context.
Like many other tasks, managing direct reports requires a strategy that must be carried out effectively and improve the operations of a team. Conducting weekly check-ins with employees allows you to build trusting relationships based on mutual accountability and open exchange of ideas, as well as helping each of you monitor progress toward goals. Effective one-on-one meetings with direct reports need not be daunting when attention is paid to making the most of this valuable time together.
About The Author: See Wei Ngiam
Ngiam’s versatile background in HR management and extensive experience working with MNCs such as Kimberly-Clark and Amway have allowed Ngiam to design Growtribe in a practical way to enable people leader & manager to accelerate people growth through a simple and yet impactful approach.