1:1 meetings between managers and employees are something that most of us know “should” happen. But how often do they get pushed down the priority list, cancelled or shortened or feel like a tick box exercise. Numerous studies show how crucial a manager is to an employee’s engagement and whether or not they will stay with an organisation. The 1:1 meeting is your chance to shine as a great people manager. Below are some top tips to help you get the most from what should be one of the most important meetings in your diary.
Schedule regular time
Work out a sensible time that suits you and your member of staff and as much as possible try and stick to it. Make sure at least the next 6 months of meetings are booked into the diary. It is easy to use the auto settings on your calendar to set up a recurring meeting. Urgent things inevitably crop up from time to time but, if you really have to move the meeting, explain why to your employee and commit to rescheduling it there and then. You want your staff to feel valued – how does always putting their work and worse, their personal development, at the bottom of the pile make your staff feel?
Not just a workload update
Inevitably the meeting will touch upon what current projects your employee has on and gives them the opportunity to ask you any questions or for support. It is also dedicated time for you to give them the heads up about new projects coming down the track. The majority of the time in the meeting though should be spent focussed on them as an individual. This can be coaching them to work through some specific challenges, getting their feedback and offering yours on existing pieces of work but importantly focussing on broader development topics and their aspirations.
It’s about them not you
Take the time to recognise your employee’s style and adapt accordingly. For example, if you are very task focussed but they are much more engaged by emotions, make sure you ask them how they are currently feeling (be genuine!) – don’t just jump into the details. Do you have an employee who relishes variety? Perhaps take them out of the office to a coffee shop for the meeting rather than having it in the same old meeting room. If you’ve taken your team through a personality profiling exercise, such as Insights Discovery, spend some time considering what the best approach is for each individual to help you get the best out of them. Don’t be afraid to simply ask them what would work for them. Ensure that they are doing most of the talking – the meeting is about them after all.
Rocking up late, flustered and clearly impatient to get through the meeting to then bustle off to your next, does not set a positive tone that tells your member of staff you care about them. Make sure you arrive feeling well prepared, with a clean page of your notebook with the key items for discussion jotted down – not forgetting broader development topics. Your employee also needs to come prepared, so set out your expectations of 1:1’s. For example, asking them to consider certain things in advance. Whilst you are there to support their development, they also have to take responsibility to drive this forward.
Objectives and Personal Development Plans are not just for appraisals
Going through the motions of setting objectives and paying lip service to a development plan once a year will not help your staff to be the best they can be. Ensure objectives and development plans remain fresh by referring to them throughout the year at 1:1 meetings, rather than simply ticking the box at annual appraisal time. If someone isn’t meeting your expectations, use the 1:1 meetings to coach them through challenges and provide constructive feedback. You can also focus on why they may not be excelling. It also helps to frame their work and career in the context of the goals of the wider organisation, so they can understand the part they are playing, giving their work more purpose. If the meeting is all about their development, why wouldn’t you refer to their personal development plan?
As a manager, there are many demands on your time but managing your team is not in addition to your day job – it is your day job. With regular care and attention, you can help your team to really flourish and excel. A great reward for a few productive hours a month I’m sure you’ll agree.