Six Simple Rules for Great 1:1s

Face-to-face interaction is something that simply can’t be replaced. The hustle and bustle of operations includes a slew of emails, phone calls, and IM’s, but these communications can’t stand in for an old-fashioned 1:1.

As a leader, one of your most important jobs is to connect with your team individually and openly communicate. And it’s not just limited to the “you need to do this” or “what are you working on” conversations — happy and engaged employees are ones who connect with their companies by connecting with their bosses.

Here are some top-tips to having effective 1:1s

  1. Let the employee create the agenda – Each employee may have different needs. For example, some of our managers travel often and it can be difficult to receive feedback and guidance on individual action items. By setting the 1:1 agenda, the employee can make the most of the time block you’ve set aside.
  2. It’s not always about work – When everyone walks out of the office, they have different lives. Talk about it! A strong personal relationship builds the vital employee/manager relationship.
  3. 30-minute rule – Try to make 1:1s a solid block of 30 minutes. It’s enough time to have an efficient meeting without dragging it out. Make those 30 minutes solid and uninterrupted, too.  Then both parties feel they’re making the most out of the time.
  4. Don’t offload – As tempting as it may be to get some of the ugly items off your to-do list, don’t make your 1:1s about assigning tasks. Not a single employee will want to have a candid conversation if they fear it will add a mountain of work to their load. Eat the frog and resist this urge as tempting as it may be.
  5. See the big picture – Especially when executing against a strategic plan, it’s important to have the conversations around the big picture. We sometimes forget that all of the smaller tasks we do tally up to a larger vision.
  6. Follow-up – Whether it’s following up with an answer, praise for their work, or just a personal note, make sure to follow up after your meeting. It lets them know that you’re on the front of their mind and really do value their time.

Your organization is comprised of people, including yourself. 1:1s are an easy, personal way to build team relationships that will allow your organization to thrive. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing your office in a fire over a simple red stapler (Office Space reference, in case you didn’t catch that).

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