5 Strategies for Effective 1-on-1s
With the amount of time lost from meetings, it’s no surprise that managers are usually looking for ones to eliminate. However, before doing so, it’s important to realize the many benefits individual check-ins provide. One-on-ones can help develop trust between management and employees, improve productivity and performance, better connect employees’ contributions to the company’s overall mission, and enhance managers’ leadership and coaching skills.1
“One-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager. They are where you can ask strategic questions,” says author and business coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders. “And from a rapport point of view, they are how you show employees that you value them and care about them.”2
In fact, the Harvard Business Review reported that workers who have regular one-on-ones with their managers tend to be more engaged employees.3
It’s best to go into one-on-one meetings prepared. To be successful, consider the following tips.
Pick a Casual Venue
It’s common for one-on-one meetings to elicit fear on the part of employees. Because one-on-ones are not always the norm, when they are scheduled, our minds tell us something must be wrong. That’s why it’s important to think about the location for the meeting. When possible, consider keeping things casual by meeting outside of your office. Choose a conference room or a coffee shop; just make sure it’s somewhere private and on “neutral ground.” This alone will set the tone and help put your employees’ minds at ease.4
Schedule Meetings Consistently
For one-on-one meetings to be effective, they must occur on a regular basis. According to Saunders, how frequently they occur is not an issue. What is important is “that you schedule them on your calendar as a repeating event,” she says. This helps the employee as well as you—a standing meeting means they will perhaps be less likely to interrupt you with minor issues in the interim.2 Additionally, by sending the message that these meetings are important, your employees will come prepared.4
Prepare Yet Be Flexible
There is a tricky balance to maintain to ensure one-on-ones are effective. Preparation is important, so sending an agenda to direct reports so they can themselves prepare what they’d like to discuss can be helpful. Topics to discuss may include goals, feedback, and professional development. You may not have to devote time each meeting to every topic, so base it on current priorities.1
Listen and Be Present
Having regular one-on-one meetings helps no one if management is not fully present during the conversation at hand. As Margaret Moore, author and Wellcoaches Corporation CEO, says, “It’s so easy to send a message inadvertently that you don’t care about the other person and that whatever is on your phone is more important.”2 Deal with any crises before or after the meeting without rescheduling. When listening, do so actively, and provide signs of understanding, such as nodding. By listening fully, both parties gain a better understanding of each other’s perspectives, and workers will feel both seen and heard.1
Share Personal Experiences
Sharing personal stories during one-on-ones can be helpful in multiple ways. For one, providing concrete examples brings clarity to the conversation. Secondly, it encourages employees to be open about issues they may face at work or home. This creates stronger communication and promotes a greater sense of understanding on both sides.1
Become the Business Leader You Envision With an MBA From Walden University
Walden’s Master of Business Administration program prepares future managers to lead organizations to success while teaching them to consider what’s right and what’s best for workers. This generation of workers cares about establishing a sense of trust and ensuring a healthy work-life balance. Walden’s program is based on these values.
What sets Walden’s online MBA program apart?
- Greater accessibility, with no GMAT or GRE scores required
- Support resources, including a Writing Center and an MBA Success Planner
- Hands-on learning, with real-world scenarios and case studies from day one
- A comprehensive curriculum that includes the development of soft skills such as emotional intelligence
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With an MBA from Walden, you can learn to create the kind of corporate culture the world needs.
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