Director of Marketing at haseebtariq.com. I help fix large revenue retention & growth issues.
During one of my meetings with an employee, I came prepared for a difficult conversation. The purpose of this particular one-on-one meeting was to discuss why the person had not been as productive in their work duties and then determine if they would make any improvements in the future. This one-on-one also included talking about the expectations from them moving forward so this situation did not happen again.
I arrived at our discussion ready for confrontation but ended up having a frank talk about how both parties felt and came away thinking all was resolved. There are many benefits to regular one-on-one meetings, such as making sure your employees know you care about them and keeping tabs on performance. Meeting as the manager should always be one-on-one, for no more than an hour, and I believe you need to have them scheduled with your employee at least once a month, if not every other week or so, for best results.
One-on-one meetings are a great way to get feedback from your team members and manage their performance. But it’s not always easy to know how to prepare or what the best practices are for a one-on-one. I will answer those questions so you can have productive one-on-one meetings with your employees.
1. Establish objectives for the meeting.
The purpose of one-on-ones is to uncover potential issues, which means you need to have one-on-one meetings with your employees regularly. You should also be specific about what the meeting is for and if there is a particular issue you want to address in the meeting.
Objectives and key results (OKRs) are a popular goal-setting framework, and one-on-one meetings are a great place to set them. Make sure you understand the benefits and drawbacks of individual OKRs as opposed to group ones. Be sure the OKR will be in place for at least three months so it feels like both parties have made long-term commitments. When setting goals, make certain they’re measurable by using verbs or numbers. Also make clear when these goals, metrics and OKRs should be reviewed while also reviewing progress along the way.
Establish objectives for the conversation, so you know where it’s going from beginning to end before getting started. It may seem like common sense, but just because someone hands out feedback or advice doesn’t mean they’re doing their job well. Your one-on-ones are an opportunity for your employees to provide input on how things are going and for you as an employer to make sure everything is being handled properly.
2. Set an agenda with specific topics and time limits.
My biggest frustration when I was managing one-on-ones with my employees was I would set the meeting and provide an agenda but then find myself in a conversation that had nothing to do with what we were supposed to be talking about. Needless to say, this made me feel like it wasn’t worth spending time preparing for meetings because they weren’t going as planned.
It’s also frustrating when you have someone who can go off on tangents or tell stories that don’t really pertain to anything. You end up feeling like you’re wasting your time if you’ve established an agenda ahead of time but the meeting is just skipping around aimlessly.
As a manager, it’s your job to keep the conversation on the topic. You should have one or two topics for the meeting. Try to set a time limit for each topic, so you can get as much done in one sitting as possible.
3. Schedule meetings at the times when people are most likely to be productive.
If you can look for patterns in meetings, you can schedule them for a time of day when people are most likely to be more productive. The most optimal time to book a meeting is on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., according to a study conducted by YouCanBookMe, a U.K.-based scheduling software company. The team analyzed data from 530,000 meeting invitations and determined that was the time most people were free.
Make sure you schedule your one-on-ones at a different time than regular staff meetings or other company events because those are not dedicated to one-on-one conversations.
4. Write an agenda.
One-on-one meetings should always include an agenda that has been agreed upon beforehand, so both parties know what will be discussed during their meeting. To prepare, summarize the purpose of your meeting in the agenda. A good outline should include the goal of the meeting, why you are meeting, what you want to accomplish and who should be in the meeting.
5. Put someone in charge of sending out recap notes.
These should start with a summary of what was discussed in the meeting and end with a list of next steps. Then the note-taker (who can be either you or your employee) should share those points with the other person. Note-taking apps like Notion, Evernote or Google Keep will make this easier by syncing on all of your devices and keeping them up-to-date.
Productive one-on-one meetings are a rarity in today’s workplace. However, if you come prepared and schedule them at the best time of day for both people involved, they can be a productive way to communicate efficiently without wasting anyone’s time.