As a versatile project manager and HR content writer, Michelle develops successful organizational development programs and shares insights with the world at large to facilitate healthy workplace cultures of diversity, inclusivity, and advancement. She has written about manager development, remote work, project & time management, employee well-being, and other relevant topics to help people excel in the modern workplace.
Pub: September 3 2020
Upd: November 29 2022
Manager-employee relationships are at the forefront of achieving team success. When done well, they elevate performance and engagement, helping you to reach larger team goals more quickly. Sadly, many organizations have not prioritized this type of one on one conversations and are missing out on the benefits associated with strong manager-employee relationships.
In today's day and age, it may seem like our schedules are inundated with team meetings and people calling for our attention. Setting up a consistent and recurring time for a one-on-one meeting means that you're prioritizing both your team's and your own development. Setting aside time to chat with your direct reports, besides the annual performance review, gives you valuable insight into your team's progress and allows you to better update your own management style on key initiatives.
Here are some best practices for conducting one on ones with your team.
1. Create and share an agenda.
Agendas should be employee-driven to give you a first-hand look at what’s on their plate. Create a dedicated space to add agenda items and review action items from previous meetings. Share the meeting agenda beforehand so that both you and your employee can come prepared with solutions and feedback.
2. Set a consistent schedule.
General guidance is to meet at least bi-weekly. Meetings should last a minimum of thirty minutes, which allows you and your employee to discuss agenda items and relevant updates. And try not to cancel - not only does this send a message to your employee that they are not a priority, but it can decrease team morale and lead to more work for you in the long run.
Problems that could have been solved in a 30-minute meeting now turn into emails that flood your inbox and take you away from your own projects.
3. Be present.
One-on-one meetings are an important time to foster stronger team connections. Now that you’re here, refrain from answering other emails while listening to your employee’s updates. Instead, mute your devices so that you can dedicate your full attention to what is going on with your team. Staying present in the meeting helps your employees feel seen with any challenges that they might have.
4. Recognize wins.
Start each meeting by recognizing a small win that occurred since the last time you met. This kind of informal recognition is great for morale and sets a positive tone for the rest of the meeting. Even if you anticipate a difficult conversation, this small step emphasizes to your employee that you recognize and value their successes.
5. Dig into what’s happening.
What kind of questions are you asking in your one-on-one meetings? Are they surface-level questions such as a general “What’s on your plate right now?” Or are you using this time to ask about blockers, potential areas of extra support, and what they want to achieve in the future on a professional and personal level?
Deeper questions allow for deeper conversations, which foster more trust and collaboration.
6. Focus on development.
Whether you have an employee who is struggling or a high-performer, one-on-ones are a great time to offer extra support or strategize further career growth and professional development. Develop your coaching skills by helping employees find solutions to the issues that they are facing or by helping them develop a plan to grow their careers.
7. Remote one-on-ones.
As more companies move towards remote work, you might find yourself asking how to conduct an effective one-on-one meeting when you can’t physically meet with a team member. However, the same general rules apply. Follow the same principles for regular one-on-ones, but now it’s even more important to meet consistently and dig into any potential problems that might not be immediately apparent.
8. Next steps.
At the end of every one-on-one, document the next steps and expected actions so that they don’t disappear into the ether. You can choose to follow up on these in the next meeting or as they are completed so that important items aren’t lost.
With some structure and focus, one-on-one meetings can be an engaging way to keep up with and support your team. Focus on building a strong manager-employee relationship to build engagement and drive productivity at work, which will allow each employee to reach their goals. By sharing your time and guidance with each team member, you build your relationship with your employee, help solve their most pressing issues and align them with company goals. Check out how Hirebook’s one-on-one capabilities can help give your team superpowers!