A Hearty Talk - Deepstash

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Guide to Successful 1:1s

A Hearty Talk

A one-on-one meeting with an employee should:

  • Encourage disclosure.
  • Be regularly occurring in a private setting.
  • Psychologically safe.

One-on-one meetings open up a Pandora's box of valuable information and benefit everyone. By getting things off their chest and being assured of your support, employees see the leader as trustworthy. And if there is any problem or issue that comes out in the open during the discussion, it can get solved at a faster rate together.

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Change the setting sometimes

Occasionally, go for a walk and have your 1:1. Occasionally, go get coffee. Go sit in the courtyard. Get lunch or breakfast or dinner. Most often, it’s probably easiest and most efficient to grab or schedule a room and get right into it. Every once in awhile, though, offer to change the setting, as a chance to interact with your team member more as a human being than as just the boss.

It's ok to cancel

If there’s nothing to discuss, it’s ok to cancel. People, too often, view 1:1s as mandatory, but it’s refreshing when you both acknowledge that things are ok for now, or the time may be better spent other ways.

Let the employee own the agenda

It is a simple, symbolic practice that helps them feel ownership and autonomy for their work and their time. 

You’re saying, “You tell me what’s important,” and of course you can coach and guide them to help refine over time what’s important. 

Remote-first Mindset

Accept that you have to put in place remote work systems, even if more than half of your employees ultimately revert to office-based work.

  • If done right, a remote-first infrastructure will allow your employees' flexibility to be productive whenever, wherever.
  • It also opens up the ability to hire the best people regardless of locale.
  • It gives your organization a high degree of resilience.
Build a socially-connected culture

Intentionally design for the same interactions that would otherwise happen if people were in the office.

  • Culture is what naturally happens when a group of people gets together for any period.
  • A great culture happens with intentional design and influence. It's the reason you should make your company's mission, vision, values, operating principles, standards, and agreements visible. 
  • Culture is experienced through emotions, including how your employees feel about the company, you, other leaders, and peers. That feeling is developed through human interaction at the water cooler, kitchen, or hallway conversations.
Your leadership presence

Your people need to feel your presence as a leader as they will have fewer opportunities to see you face to face when they work remotely.

  • Regularly show up in a variety of forms that can include weekly video meetings, periodic company-wide emails, or presence in public channels.
  • Err on the side of more communication rather than less.
1:1 meetings
1:1 meetings

1:1 meetings matter. It is important to nurture that essential employee-manager relationship. But it still not easy to get right.

Under pressures, managers are still juggling commitments. Then there's the issue of what to cover, and to avoid a half-hearted performance as a manager.

1:1 category

The goal of an effective 1:1 is not an update from your direct report or for you to lay down some instructions. It's a conversation. It's a chance to hear about your direct reports' ideas for your product, their career goals, and possibly their opinion of their performance.

Keep a list of three potential topics ready for discussion. When they say they have nothing to discuss, you can jumpstart the conversation with one of your items.

Manager's best tool

Your most precious resource is your own time and energy. When you spend it on your team, it helps build healthy relationships.

Your job as a manager isn't to give advice or 'save the day.'' It's to empower your reports to find the answer themselves. If you want to understand what's going on, ask. Let her lead the conversation while you listen and probe.