It’s likely that we’ve all hosted or attended a 1:1 meeting. Let’s be honest; sometimes they’re met with a bit of a sigh. Our work calendars are filled with back to back meetings already, and quite often 1:1s are the first meetings to get culled or postponed.
Are they really that important?
Yes! We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the 1:1, especially in a work from anywhere world. They can be used as a platform to make employees feel connected and supported and can have a direct impact on performance and engagement.
A good 1:1 goes beyond a short Zoom call where you lightly touch on workload and upcoming projects. To really get the most out of the meeting you should consider intentionally designing your 1:1s.
In this guide we delve into what a 1:1 is, important topics to cover, how to hold your first ever 1:1 with a new employee, tools and templates that you can utilize and some handy questions that you can weave into the meeting. When you finish reading, you’ll be a 1:1 master, and we know you’ll never cancel another one again — well, maybe!
What is the purpose of a 1:1?
This seems like a strange question to ask. We’ve likely all been to a 1:1 or held a 1:1, but have you ever sat back and actually thought about its purpose?
Think of it like a coffee break. A moment to pause in the chaos of the working week and check in on your employees progress, go through their workload, chat about challenges, celebrate wins and offer constructive feedback.
In this private, one-on-one setting, you’ll be able to cultivate a more personal working relationship and get to know your employee on a deeper level, beyond work. You can use this time to make them feel valued, give them the space to outline any worries or concerns, or unpack any career goals that they would like to work towards. When we work remotely we don’t have the pleasure of seeing our employees face to face on a daily basis. We can’t enjoy social lunches or meet-ups by the water cooler, so using this platform to enhance and build relationships is imperative.
Still not sold? A study shows that employees who meet with their manager regularly are more than twice as likely to be engaged at work.
Important 1:1 topics
There’s no real right or wrong here; the topics you choose to cover are dependent on the industry you’re in, your management style and the employee that you’re meeting with.
In some 1:1s you might have lots of time, and in others you might need to rush off after 20 minutes, so you’ll need to adapt the 1:1 structure accordingly.
Julie Zhou (Former VP Design at Facebook) suggests using four pillars in the 1:1 meeting framework:
- Discussing top priorities
- Calibrating what ‘great’ looks like
- Sharing feedback
- Reflecting on how things are going
- Reviewing salary, promotion possibilities and career goals
You don’t have to cover off every pillar in every meeting, but using these pillars as a guide will help you to have meaningful, constructive conversations.
Remember, a 1:1 isn’t about the manager, it’s about the employee. Whilst managers should come prepared with topics and feedback, they should also give the employee space to talk, sit back, listen and coach. “Your job as a manager isn’t to dole out advice or ‘save the day’ — it’s to empower your report to find the answer herself,” says Zhou.
Whilst it’s good to touch on day-to-day workload or any live projects, make sure that you also look at the bigger picture, long-term goals, solutions and development.
Make your first ever 1:1 impactful
Your first 1:1 meeting with a new employee will set the tone for your working relationship, so it’s important to get it right!
Ensure that you begin the 1:1 with a brief overview of how you see the meetings running, what their format will be and what the expectations, for both parties, are.
It’s then a good idea to head into open conversation. Think of ways to get to know your new employee. This will help to break the ice and give you an insight into your employee on a more personal level. From here, don’t be afraid to delve into questions that will give you the lay of the land and help you understand what goals your new employee has, the way they like to work and uncover any concerns that they have.
Here are a few conversation starters:
- What attracted you to work here?
- What are you most excited about in your new role?
- What are your expectations of me as your manager?
- What are your ambitions and goals?
- What should I know about you and how you like to work that will help us work well together?
Handy tip: it might be worth scheduling in a little more time for your first 1:1 so that you’re able to cover more ground and get to know each other.
Tools and templates for your 1:1s
You could consider setting up a Google doc or using a platform such as Trello to track your 1:1s.
Consider leaving space for:
- The date and time of the meeting
- Agenda items
- Talking points
- Notes from the meeting
- Action items
When the next week’s 1:1 comes around you can move the previous week’s notes to a new tab or column, but you’ll always be able to refer back to ensure that the meetings remain connected, seamless and productive.
Handy 1:1 questions
You don’t want your 1:1s to feel forced; it’s a good idea to let the conversation flow naturally. Still, it can be good to be prepared!
Here are some questions that might spark useful, productive conversations:
- How are you?
- What are your priorities this week?
- Do you need any support from me?
- What has challenged you since we last spoke?
- What has gone well since we last spoke?
- Do you have any feedback for me?
- Is there anything you’d like to be working on?
- Can I provide any support between now and the next time we meet?
Win at your next 1:1
Make your 1:1 meetings an important part of the week by utilizing some of the hints and tips above. Remember to infuse your own management style into these meetings so that you can build effective and authentic relationships with your employees.
Don’t know where to start with managing remote employees? Start with allwhere. We provide a suite of services that includes outsourced, centralized procurement; full lifecycle asset management (deployment, replacement, retrieval, storage, disposal, and redeployment); and more to help teams navigate the future of work. To learn more, book a demo with us here.
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