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.

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Communication

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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.

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.

  • When someone is particularly stressed or tense, and they don't know why, ask them things like what part of the day these feelings are the strongest. This allows you to identify triggers, be it meetings, people, or certain types of work.
  • Ask: "Where's your head at?" This simple question can give them a chance to talk about what's bothering them.
  • To get people to open up, model the behavior. Be open and honest about your own life, problems, and concerns, regardless of where someone ranks in the organization.

Ask specific but open-ended questions to enable you to see the other point of view and see all the dimensions of a problem.

  • Ask, "What's harder than it should be?" It helps you identify patterns when you talk to various people.
  • "Is there anything you'd like to ask or highlight"?

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.

  • Does the person you're managing feel invested in your company or team goals?
  • Does he/she feel as if you've got his/her back?
  • Do you know what motivates him/her?
  • Both parties must get something out of this relationship. What are you offering vs. what you're expecting?
  • Does your direct report understand what he/she is supposed to do? How to do it?
  • Does he/she have the right training, right scope, proper authority, right resources, and enough time to do as you need?
  • Does he/she know how important your ask is?
  • What does he/she need from you or other colleagues?
  • Is he/she encountering bottlenecks?

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:

  • Clear and straightforward expectations.
  • Proactive, rather than reactive, performance management.
  • Opportunity for mastery. Deliver feedback and performance conversations that will empower your reps to attain proficiency in their roles.
  • Identify a success metric for the meeting. Create an agenda that will allow you to meet that purpose. (The reason for this meeting is...)
  • Craft the items on your agenda.
  • Build appropriate reporting and dashboards.
  • Review relevant data beforehand. Come to the meeting prepared with targeted points of discussion.

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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.

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  • Walk through the agenda. Ask if there’s anything else to add before you dig in. 
  • If there are hard things to discuss , try to bookend it with 2 positive topics. That way, the close of the meeting doesn’t leave your employee feeling down. 
  • Do not monopolize the conversation. This is for you each to get time to talk. 
  • Always end the meeting asking them how things are going overall and if there is anything else you can do to make them successful
  • find out about the employee’s current emotional state.
  • track the status of the employee’s performance and how their goals are coming along.
  • learn if there are any obstacles in the way to the employee’s goals.
  • discuss specific issues – either the employee’s, the manager’s, or both.
  • get honest value-added feedback from the employee.
  • provide an opportunity for the manager to coach the employee.
  • share formal and informal information about the team and company as a whole.

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