Tips to Effective One-on-One Meetings

One-on-one meetings are scheduled weekly meetings between the manager and the employee. It is essential for building an effective working relationship between the manager (employer) and the employee. Also, it creates an efficient workplace, which encourages a smooth avenue for the right communication channel between the manager and employees.

What you need to know about one-on-one meetings

A 1:1 session is all about the employee, and not the manager. It’s a time for the employee to express themselves with questions, complaints, fears, their goals, and sometimes, personal life.

Hold 1-on-1 session regularly. Do it weekly or bi-weekly, and keep to it. If you must cancel, both parties must know why it was canceled and make plans for rescheduling. Canceling a session must be genuine and must be agreed upon by both parties involved.

During the one-on-one meetings, the employee’s recent performance and short term goals are discussed (what’s going well and what needs a change). As simple as it sounds, many managers and employees still find it challenging to carry out this simple technique effectively.

Inform them about one to one benefits

Train new employees who are not familiar with the performance process and how it’s carried out in your company. They must be aware of its effect on the company and their productivity.

The employee must understand that it is never a waste of their free time nor just another pressing responsibility for the manager, the process becomes very easy for both parties ones this mindset is instilled in both parties.

Make preparations before any one-on-one meetings

Prepare ahead for every one-on-one session. You can use a system that documents, and tracks all necessary information. With the system, you can create a survey and send it to employees to fill. That way both employee and manager are up to date on what will be discussed.

To make one-on-one sessions effective, encourage employees to ask questions, request feedback on their performance. Note that the meeting is about the employee, and they should make good use of it.

Find a suitable place

One-on-one sessions are usually over a desk in the manager’s office or the conference room. But you can tweak it a little bit, once in a while. Choose where the employee will feel free to share. You can take a walk, go to a restaurant, or a coffee shop. Most importantly, there should be no external distractions during the session.

Respect the planned timing

Keep to a time when conducting a one on one session. If it is scheduled for a 30 minutes session, keep to it. If there are employees who talk a lot, make sure to keep them on focus. And if you are the talker, find a way to control that. Also, never go late to a one-on-one session with the excuse of an important issue; it is disrespectful. There’s a sense of trustworthiness and respect when you are punctual to the session.

Stay focused

Focus on the session and avoid distractions from emails, calls, and even your thoughts. Concentrate solely on what is being discussed, listen more, talk less. Understand the body language of your employees, especially those who do not speak out their minds, make efforts to understand what’s not said.

The meeting is an opportunity to coach/support the employee. Avoid discussing the employees’ status updates; it should be done in a later period. If it must be addressed, it should be on a mild level. Follow up on the decision made after each one-on-one session. It will keep you posted on the employee performance development. Use a simple tool that can make one-on-one sessions useful for you and your employees.

Make them feel comfortable

Before starting a session, congratulate the employee for their performance so far. It will create an amicable environment for both you and the employee. Compliment their job; this will create positive energy for the one-on-one session. A genuine ‘how are you’? will make them more confident. After this, you can dive deep into why you are meeting.

Summarize at the end

Take notes and observations during the session, but make sure it doesn’t distract you. Document steps or actions that should be made as it will serve as a follow-up. It will also serve as a reference during the next one-on-one session.

To wrap up the session, summarize what has been discussed and agreed upon. Clarify things you didn’t get right, to avoid misunderstanding. Don’t forget to express gratitude; you’ve both done each other a favor.

Example of questions that can be asked during the one-on-one session are:

  • Any interactions you’d like to discuss?
  • What challenges are you facing?
  • How is everything going with people you work with/on your team?
  • What are two or three skills you’d like to learn on the job?
  • Anything you will like to share with me?
  • What was the best thing that happened to you this week?

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Other processes of performance and engagement management can be accomplished through some indirect channels but not one-on-one. A one-on-one session builds a manager-employee relationship; a relationship that is fundamental to the growth of the company.

There are several reasons why you should invest in one-on-one management. One of them is to experience organic growth and productivity in your company’s workforce.

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