The most productive one-on-ones have some kind of structure, which requires you to do some prep beforehand. Basically, don’t just show up and chat—you’ll lose precious time in rambling conversations.
Ask questions that get to the heart of your concerns. For instance, if you’re stuck on a potential strategy, you can ask your manager: “How would you approach X? My proposed solution is Y, any feedback on this?”
Articulate and agree on these commitments in the last part of your one-on-one so you’re crystal clear on what’s expected between now and your next check-in. This could be as simple as your manager agreeing to send over a report that might be helpful for you, or as complex as you agreeing to have a difficult conversation with a client.
...are held between a team leader and team member.
They are conversations that usually last no longer than 10 to 30 minutes where they discuss what is going well and what needs to change.
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.
The first thought that goes through almost any professional when they hear the phrase, "Can we talk?", is that they did something wrong. An unexpected meeting can take the most self-assured person aback, especially if it comes from your boss.
This is a normal response that is naturally wired into the brain. It is a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe.
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