By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
One on one meetings are a great way to encourage frequent conversations with you and your employees. These days it’s easy to keep up to date with direct reports through email, instant messaging, phone or text, but nothing beats a face to face conversation. Having a relaxed one on one conversation with members of your team has enormous benefits. By actively listening to your team members, providing guidance and feedback you will not only motivate your employees but it also allow you to develop your own management and coaching skills.
These meetings are one of the basic premises to being an effective leader, however, they can often feel like a chore for both parties, therefore we’ve put together some handy tips to help you conduct more meaningful one to one meetings.
Make it a regular occurrence
The frequency of these meetings does depend on the size of your business, management style and how high-maintenance or experienced your team are. Some members may need more regular, weekly meetings and some may only need to see you on a monthly basis. It doesn’t necessarily matter how often the one to ones occur, but it is important that you schedule them as a repeat event in your calendar.
Recurring meetings makes sharing feedback part of a routine and will encourage a culture of honesty in your team. Regular, relaxed conversations will also make your employees feel understood, trusted and valued within the company.
Make sure you’re prepared
It’s encouraged to keep these one to one meetings quite relaxed, however, having a bit of structure and preparation will allow both parties to get the most out of the session. Be sure to spend 5-10 minutes prior to the meetings jotting down points that you wish to cover, and ask your employees to do the same. Having a list of topics to cover can help to keep the conversation flowing, this can be especially helpful for the first few meetings.
Taking notes during the one to one will also help you to prepare for the next meeting. Chances are you’re in charge of more than one or two employees, so you shouldn’t rely on memory to keep track of all the important points raised. Keep a notepad to jot down what has been discussed, taking notes also let’s your employee see that you are actively engaged in the meeting and that you have taken into account what has been said.
Focus on them
The employees are the main focus of these one to ones. You should reinforce the idea that they are in place to help your team and allow them to express their thoughts/ideas so you can offer your support and guidance.
It’s also important to actively listen and remain present during the meeting, meaning you don’t just listen to be polite but are genuinely trying to understand and remember everything that is being discussed. This removes the idea that the one to ones are just something to tick off your to-do list. Turn off your phone, mute your computer and devote your full attention to the topics in discussion. One ring from your phone or glance at your emails can inadvertently send the message that you don’t care about the individual sat across from you, or what they have to say.
Leave with a task
Your one on one meetings should have a purpose and an outcome. It’s always good to leave the meeting with a task for both you and your employee to work on or complete before you next meeting. It’s also handy to send a quick email after your one to one to rehash the main points discussed. This will ensure you are both on the same page and allow you both to prepare for your next meeting.
As a manager, it’s important to be consistent in everything you do and one on one meetings are no exception. They don’t have to take place every day or even every week, but it’s important to stay committed to them. Remember – the goal of these meetings is to support your employees, engage and listen to what they have to say. If kept up, these meetings will likely lead to improved team morale and higher productivity for the whole company.