How to Run Successful One-on-One Meetings

one-on-one meetings

Many of us know all too well what it’s like to have a jam-packed work calendar. While you might constantly be trying to reduce the number of meetings you have, there’s one you should absolutely keep: your recurring one-on-one check-ins with your direct reports.

It’s important for managers to carve out time to connect with their employees on a deeper level. These conversations provide the opportunity to:

  • Identify challenges and find solutions to overcome them
  • Discuss matters they may not be comfortable addressing in a larger team meeting
  • Build trust and show you value their contributions and opinions

Here are some tips on how to make the most of your one-on-one meetings.

Set an Agenda

While one-on-one check-ins may be a bit more casual than other meetings, it’s still important to know what you’ll be discussing. Putting together an agenda also provides the opportunity for collaboration—you can ask your direct report what they’d like to cover and have them decide what will be addressed. This way, you’ll ensure they’re not left wishing they could have said something more.

Suggest Discussion Topics

Your employee may default to reviewing only their projects and not know what else they could discuss. Help them out by providing some possible topics:

  • Workload and bandwidth
  • Challenges and concerns
  • Feedback and suggestions
  • Career growth goals
  • Team and company culture
  • Recent wins and achievements to celebrate
  • How you can help them succeed

And just because something’s not on the agenda doesn’t mean you can’t bring it up if you think there’s something that needs to be addressed.

Be Prepared

Now that the agenda has been set ahead of time, you need to come as prepared as possible. If they want to discuss challenges with your larger team, you could do a little low-key research and see if you can identify the issues they may be having. This will allow you to think of potential solutions ahead of time. (That said, make sure you’re still listening actively to their concerns, so you understand the problem from their perspective.)

Keep the Conversation Going

Not everyone excels at giving feedback or bringing up workplace pain points directly. If your employee hesitates to share their thoughts, don’t be afraid to ask them open questions to help facilitate discussion. You can also tell them they’re welcome to email you about their thoughts after the meeting, so they have time to collect and articulate their feelings.

Avoid Distractions

These meetings are the time to show your direct report that they matter and you’re listening. So put away your phone, quit your email program, shut down your chat windows, and resist scrolling through social media. A major benefit of one-on-one check-ins is strengthening your relationship and maintaining trust. You have to prove they’re a priority by listening without constant interruptions.

Connect as People

One-on-one meetings shouldn’t just be all about work. This is also a time to get to know your employee better and catch up on their personal life. After all, we’re all humans, and work is just one facet of who we are. Connecting on a personal level may be even more important when working remotely. Because you’re missing that face-to-face interaction and the opportunity to have random chats throughout the day, you should make a point to catch up and show you care.

Change Up the Setting

If you’re still able to have in-person meetings, try to choose a different location every so often. It can be refreshing to get out of the office and talk outside, in a restaurant, or over a good cup of coffee. This simple change may even help grease the wheels and help the conversation flow more naturally.

Follow Up

Like most meetings, you will often walk away from your check-ins with action items. Make sure you clearly state the next steps for both of you and set a deadline for when you’ll check back in about them. And then make sure you do your part—failing to follow up about things that are important to them will quickly erode trust.

Don’t Constantly Reschedule

There will, of course, be times when you absolutely have to move your meeting. But try to make this infrequent, as keeping your check-ins goes a long way in showing your direct report that you value them.

It will be well worth your effort to make these check-ins a priority—it’s been shown that managers who hold regular one-on-one meetings are more likely to have happier employees who are more engaged.

Whether you’re looking for a meeting space to hold your one-on-ones or need a team office, Optimum Coworking delivers an exceptional environment that fosters success in all.