One of the core components of my manager toolbox is the 1to1 meeting (or 1:1, or one-on-one, or 1on1, face2face, f2f, …), a recurring appointment each team member has with me. How to structure and get the most out of it?
At the beginning, it’s important to set the reasons to spent this time together and the tone. The meeting is all about the team member: their needs, frustrations, feedback, ideas and career growth are the topics of discussion. The 1:1 is a chance for the team member to bring the problems them need help with, and a chance for me to learn more about their work. As consequence, I empower them to be the owner of the agenda and structure it around a unique, core, question: “What can your manager be helping with?”
Once the objectives are clear, I set the cadency of the meeting to create an habits, generally weekly and one hour long. Unless something more urgent happens: rush hurts the quality of the conversation, so better postpone to a less busy moment, or shorten, or even make a phone call if there is something urgent to discuss and other conflicting activities.
Especially for the first times, I prefer to use a format that facilitate the discussion centered on the previous question. To make everything more collaborative and transparent, I have a shared and confidential document with every team member that we can both pre-populate, with this general structure for each meeting we have. The use of “you” is important to empower the team member, instead of a more abstract 3rd person.
- Challenges: Leverage manager support to remove roadblocks and enhance your impact, receive coaching and guidance in areas where you have a challenge
- Issues and Concerns: make manager aware of any personal or professional issues you have
- Review core and project progress: an opportunity to demonstrate your impact, to share what’s going on and what’s coming up
- Performance expectation and feedback: from the manager, to the manager
- Career and personal development: support in developing your career, skills and knowledge
- Misc (Out of office, lead updates, other unplanned discussions)
It’s important to constantly remember the point on career and personal development and, once in a while, it becomes the main topic of the meeting. Again, to facilitate the discussion, it can be useful to have a career worksheet template to use as base, touching these main areas:
- Personal reflection
- Goal setting
- Action planning
- End-of-quarter retrospectives
As final touch, I remember the team it’s always possible to change the structure of our 1:1 and they can schedule extra 1:1s outside of our normal schedule, as I’m here to serve.
Bonus activity for one of the 1:1: ask the reasons they do what they do.