1 on 1 meetings can be scary if you are not prepared for them. I have already talked a lot about how to do them well. In this guide, I want to talk about the first 1-on-1 meeting between a manager and their employee. Both the parties should take this meeting seriously! If done well, it sets a great tone for this partnership in the coming months.
Tips for first one on one meeting with a new employee
If you are a manager who wants to prepare for a new person joining your team, remember the following points!
Set a clear agenda email
Every great meeting has this at its core. You should send an email at least a few days in advance to the new employee with the agenda you have in mind.
Remember to also include the 'why' behind all this. Why is this meeting important? Or maybe you have real stories on how this has helped you in the past? Use this to inspire your new employee! This is how your email can look like:
Welcome to the team! I am super excited to start working with you, and learn from each other to achieve our goals together. I usually hold my one on one meetings on a bi-monthly basis, does that work for you? Feel free to block a calendar slot that works for you.
A few things to note:
- This is your meeting! Use it to schedule any pressing agenda items you might have in mind.
- In my opinion, most successful people use these meetings to zoom out and discuss their career, up-skilling themselves and how to achieve more at work. While these are great, there is literally nothing that is out of bounds in this meeting :)
The only thing I ask is that we set agenda in advance, come prepared for this meeting and document our learnings well by using one on one meeting templates like this.
Talk to you soon!
Set expectations in advance
You should this expectation setting a part of the onboarding itself. Send them documents and links within a few days of joining that talk about:
- How you usually do one on one meetings
- When are they usually held
- And what is the template you use
Important: You should talk to the team member that they own the 1 on 1 meetings, not you. They should take efforts to prepare for the meetings, and build the meeting agenda. You will be 20% talking and 80% listening.
When in doubt, fallback on empathy
As a leader, you might be super excited to tell your new employee about all the projects that are going on. And your grand plans for the business. Pump the brakes a bit. Try to put yourself in your employee's shoe. They are in a new environment, and are nervous about how to deal with a new culture. It's your job to put them at ease and start building some trust!
You can do that by asking them about their life, their career goals and the areas where they need help. Your agenda items come later.
Start with Icebreakers
Remember that you are yet to build a 100% friendly rapport with this new employee! Start your meeting with a few fun Icebreaker questions. This is a great way to lighten the mood and generate momentum for rest of the 1 on 1 meeting.
Ask for their advice
Treat this preparation as a two way dialogue, and not instructions that YOU are giving out. Include your new employee in the planning! Ask them for advice on the agenda templates, the process and the scheduling e.g.
- Should you meet weekly or bi monthly?
- How long should the meeting be?
- Should you use 1 on 1 meeting tool to document the meetings?
After all, 90% of the meeting should be about them and not about you. This is super important to build trust from the get go.
Do your research
No one likes a robot collecting question surveys! Do your research about the person and then use that to personalise your conversation with them. Follow them on Twitter / Linkedin to figure out their interests.
- Maybe you can change your Zoom background with their face to lighten the mood? :)
- Play their favourite song when they enter the room?
- Talk about their favourite sports and team?
- Discuss their past career, work and projects that you could see online
There are really no bad answers here. As long as you show that you are human!
Tips for first one on one meeting with a new manager
You will find many articles to help managers, but hardly any that have useful tips for employees. So here you go!
Do your research
It's always a good idea to read about a person before meeting them. Where did they work before this? What kind of career path have they had? What excites you about working with them? Doing this will help you break the ice faster in your first one on meeting with your manager.
Tell them what you expect from them
You have full freedom to tell your new manager about your expectations. You can send an email in advance that includes things like:
- How you have done 1 on 1 meetings in the past
- The best agenda templates that you like
- The ideal format that works for you
Ask for help
Include important personal goals & struggles in your first 1 on 1 meeting with the manager! I sent a detailed email to my new manager in 2017, outlining my struggles with product management. This gave them a great opportunity to build a plan to personally help me in the coming months.
Be ready to give advice
Don't worry about offending your manager! They want to hear relevant feedback from you. It's important to raise your hands & voice your opinions.
Beyond all this, remember to walk into the meeting with a genuine desire to help the other person. Everything else will follow.