Productive one-on-one meetings enable for managers to understand employee’s needs, address challenges early on and ensure that goals and objectives are being met. Here are 5 ways to ensure more productive one-on-one meetings with your employees:
- Have an agenda for each meeting. The agenda should include specific items to be covered during each meeting but also enable time for casual conversation or other discussions between the leader and the employee.
- Check in on project status. Ask about the status of current projects. Have a standard format for reporting on projects so that it is easier to determine if the employee is doing well with the project or needs more support.
- Problem solve. Use the time together to discuss problems or challenges the employee is having and work with them to develop solutions. As part of the agenda for the meeting, the leader might ask the employee to bring to the meeting any challenges or problems along with potential solutions to resolve the situation.
- Check in on progress toward professional development or career goals. Check in with the employee to be sure they are making progress toward their goals. What support do they need from their manager to continue to make progress (e.g., funding for training, time to work on a challenging project?)
- Provide feedback. Provide both positive and constructive feedback. Start with positive feedback. (For example, “Thank you for the great job you did for taking the lead on solving the problem on Project A. I understand that you worked after hours to understand the root cause of the problem and then led the rest of the team through a number of potential solutions. Feedback provided to me noted that you really engaged the team in discussions and got them past pointing blame for the problem.”) If you need to provide constructive feedback; find the good (if possible) in a situation and then share ways to improve the next time around. (For example, “The final outcome of the task you completed was what was required. The next time you have a similar task, you might, however, reach out to some of your colleagues so that you can get their input. This will enable you to share some of your own ideas, as well as get ideas from others. Additionally, you may find that you save yourself some time as some colleagues have worked on similar tasks before.”) Alternatively, when there is no positive to share first, the leader should be sure to be clear about expectations and why those expectations were not met. Collaborate with the employee to find ways to ensure expectations are met the next time.
Outside of these 5 ways to enable more productive one-on-one meetings, in order to ensure that these meetings actually happen, schedule meetings for the entire year. Leaders are more likely have the meetings with their employees when they are on the calendar. Additionally, determine how often it is necessary to meet with each employee based on the employee’s needs, not the leader’s needs. Newer employees may need to meet with their manager once a week; employees who have been in their role longer may need to meet monthly; other employees in the middle of a particularly challenging assignment or taking on new responsibilities may need to meet bi-weekly.