When done correctly, one-on-ones unify your team, show your direct reports you’re invested in their progress, help you identify problems before they become real issues, and keep you tapped into the pulse of your department or group.
But when done incorrectly, one-on-ones are a waste of both your time and your employees’ time.
You know your one-on-ones are in the second camp when your employees start blowing them off or acting disengaged—or when you can’t give a succinct explanation of what the two of you accomplished in the 30-minute meeting.
Don’t worry, you can put your one-on-ones back on track. Here are four ways to make your meetings effective.
1. Have Your Direct Report Set the Agenda
Many one-one-ones fail because neither person has enough to say. Of course, as soon as you walk out, you remember everything you didn’t cover.
This problem is mitigated with an agenda. And while an agenda you create would be helpful, it’s even more helpful to have your employees create them. They’ll feel empowered by the responsibility, thus increasing their participation.
2. Set Goals
One-on-ones are a highly useful way to develop goals that both you and your direct report support. Plus, having a list of concrete goals at the end of the meeting will give both of you the sense that you’ve accomplished something.
We suggest first asking your employee what he or she would like to accomplish in the next week, month, and so on. Then provide your own run-down of goals. Finally, bring the two lists together—either through compromise or by picking and choosing some goals from each.
3. Ask for Feedback
Traditionally, one-one-ones are a time for the manager to give constructive feedback and the direct report to listen.
But feedback should go both ways. Your employee will be more receptive to your critiques if he or she knows that you’re also looking for ways to improve.
The takeaway? Set aside a time for both of you to give feedback.
4. Send Follow-Up Emails
Sending your direct report a message after the one-on-one (ideally, a couple hours later or early the next day) will solidify the personal connection and the professional advancements you made together.
You should begin by thanking the person for taking the time to meet with you. Next, summarize the main points of the meeting, sticking to two paragraphs or less. End by asking, “Did I miss anything? Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you’d like to?”
Not only will this email serve as a written reference for both you and your direct reports, but it gives them a chance to come to you with immediate questions and concerns, rather than waiting another six days.
These techniques will transform even the most unproductive one-on-ones.
About the Author
Aja Frost is a freelance writer who covers career, lifestyle, current events, and social justice. Say hi to her on Twitter.Tags: company meetings, setting goals