One-on-ones are a great opportunity to for managers and employees to connect. So much of our work communication is conducted over technology, but nothing can match the depth of a face-to-face conversation.
A lot of companies structure one-on-ones to be a time for managers to prepare questions and feedback to discuss with their employees.
This article highlights how to create a one-on-one that is “owned” by the employee, not the manager, and how this shift makes more of an impact on the employee, the manager, and ultimately the company.
Make the meeting employee-led
Make the switch to a one-on-one meeting that is led by the employee. Stress that it is their time to bring questions, concerns, and strategy discussions to the meeting. It should be the employee’s responsibility to create and communicate the agenda.
An employee-led meeting is important for a couple of reasons:
- Employees see aspects of the day-to-day business that a manager might not be aware of. If an agenda is set by a manager, they might not have the space to bring it up.
- It shows that the employee is a trusted member of the team and that the manager values what they need to discuss.
- It allows the manager to better understand what is important to their employees and organically discover issues that they might not have been aware of.
Set a consistent time
The purpose of a one-on-one is to build a relationship and offer support. If a manager is inconsistent or cancels a meeting, it sends the message that the employee isn’t valued.
Dependable meeting times are also important because the consistency allows the employee to collect questions and concerns that they need to discuss and wait until the meeting to address them. With time, this will allow the big, persistent questions and concerns that stick with the employee to be brought to the meeting.
Keep in mind that the frequency of the meetings might not be right in the beginning, so be aware and adjust them as necessary. Depending on how fast the company pace is, a one-on-one could be held weekly, every other week, or monthly.
Keep them informal
As stated above, these meetings are to build a relationship with and offer support to employees, and an informal setting will allow for the most success in these areas.
A few suggestions:
- As much as possible, don’t take notes during the meeting. Taking notes seems impersonal and makes it feel like an interrogation rather than a conversation.
- Try changing up the setting of the meeting. Go for a walk, get a quick coffee, or take them out to lunch.
- It is okay if the conversation strays away from the main meeting topic. The meeting topics should be addressed, but it is natural to have an organic conversation. They can lead to some of the best insights into your employee.
Communicate expectations with employees
Make sure to communicate your expectations with the employees. Everyone’s time is valuable, so it is important for managers and employees to be fully present and prepared during the meeting.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Ask employees to keep notes on important topics or questions that they would like to discuss during the meeting. This can be done in Evernote, a physical notebook, or another tool that they feel comfortable with.
- Some managers like to be sent a meeting agenda to allow for an opportunity to prepare.
- Convey what types of questions should be held until the one-on-one, and what types of questions should be asked in the moment.
- Let the employee know that once in a while, it is okay to cancel the meeting if they have nothing to discuss.
Managers that make the space and time for one-on-one meetings to connect with their employees will see a huge difference in both employee performance and employee retention.
Interested in learning more about how meetings can increase employee retention? Here is a blog about how to conduct “stay interviews” to get feedback from employees about their experience at the company and what suggestions they have to improve that experience.
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