How often do you have one on one meetings with your team members? In my conversations with business owners and managers I hear a variety of answers. Often the answer is one a month or worse. If you aren’t having regular meetings with your team members you are doing them (and your company) a disservice.

What happens with no one on ones?

I have a good friend that works for a company that does many things well for the employees, but one area that seems lacking across the board is any sort of one-on-one routine. Therefore, the managers routinely have no idea about how busy their people are, nobody is there to help set priorities, and as a result it seems typical to have one person or department overwhelmed while another is looking for things to do. This behavior starts at the top. If the owner or CEO isn’t modeling and expecting good behavior it’s unlikely to happen on its own.

Regular check-ins are important. Even your best employees will benefit from regular one-on-one meetings. It doesn’t have to be a long meeting either. It needs to be a check-in to see how the employee is doing, what they need from you, and prioritize their work.

One on One Cadence

I’m a big fan of having one on one meetings weekly wherever possible. The meetings do not need to be long, 15-30 minutes is plenty. When you schedule a weekly one on one meeting and one gets missed you just pick it up the following week. If you schedule your one on ones every other week or once per month it can be several weeks between meetings.

One on One Content

I believe that the agenda should be 90% from the employee’s perspective. You shouldn’t come with a ton of talking points and drive the meeting. This is your employee’s time to ask questions, ask for help, and make sure that they know what’s expected of them.

I think it’s fair to come with a topic or two, but if you have a bunch of things to share with your team or employee that should be an ad hoc meeting to have that conversation.

Most managers drive the conversation forward. I believe this is opposite of what you want. When the manager brings forward most of the topics it becomes a status meeting at best. It may even resemble an interrogation.

When managers listen to their employees and understand their needs, it builds trust. Trust makes people feel responsible and work harder.

One on Ones Help with Prioritization

One of the biggest benefits of a regular one on one meeting is that it allows you to prioritize with your staff. Your team needs to know what their priorities are, and one on ones help with that. One of the core conversation topics should be prioritization. Make sure that you and your employees are on the same page.

Good One on Ones = Better Performance Reviews

Building a better one on one process allows you to address performance concerns as quickly as possible. Do NOT be one of those managers that waits until a performance review to share issues. Addressing these issues through your regularly held one on one meetings allows you to solve issues faster. When you address issues quickly, they don’t fester, and instead of becoming a problem they become a speed bump.

At performance reviews, it becomes a quick review AND then plan for the future. I have found that forward looking reviews drive better performance for my team members. I’ll say it again: Do NOT spring issues on your team members during their reviews.

Good one on one meetings can really level up your organization. Make sure you make time to do them well and you will be rewarded by your team’s ability to grow and perform for your organization.

By Adam

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