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.
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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.
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.
When people come with specific problems or concerns during 1:1s, try and dig deeper to diagnose the root of a problem.
Ask specific but open-ended questions to enable you to see the other point of view and see all the dimensions of a problem.
Before discussing performance in a 1:1 meeting, check your empathy first. You want to add value and find out how your direct report feels.
Keep careful notes and actually follow up in special 1:1s. Your reports value your feedback.
Keep track of instances where your report did well, where they're lacking, or where they generally did something noteworthy. Share these things with your report in weekly 1:1s.
After a performance review, ask your report to list five to seven concrete actions they want to work on over the next six months and write them down. Check in regularly on this plan, but don't use your regular 1:1 time.
When your direct report asks for advice, ask them first what they think.
Unstructured meetings are a waste of time. In order to let the report take ownership of the meeting, prep and set the agenda. Your report will fill in part of the content. Managers owe their teams:
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.