#1 Before the meeting
Prepare & send the agenda
Setting an agenda for the meeting sounds like common sense right? But you would be surprised how many managers skip this. Be proactive, not reactive! Do this -
- Add talking points from your side to the meeting agenda.
- Don’t ask for status updates! This is to help your team members perform better & collect feedback on yourself.
- Here is a list of questions that you can use to spark insightful conversations in the 1 on 1 meeting.
- Send a reminder to the team member that they should also add talking points from their side. This is a great way to encourage them to find their voice!
Setting up calendar invites
You can use one on one meeting tools, but I always recommend starting with simple stuff. Google Calendar events and Google Docs for meeting notes is enough. If you haven’t already set up a recurring, pre-defined calendar event with your team member, do so now! You don’t want any future tasks to take priority over this. Slot it out in advance please.
If you are wondering about the right frequency and timings of one on one meetings, go here.
Go through previous notes
Now is the chance to make sure that you are closing the loops from past meetings. Were there any action items on you? Any tasks that were a blocker on you? Something that the team member had requested for which you still haven’t worked on?
I can not stress enough on the importance of this. Good leaders talk, great leaders execute. If you keep ignoring this, your team members are likely to lose faith in these meetings.
Your first one-on-one meeting with this team member?
I recommend a different set of action items in this case:
- Send a clear invite email
- Set expectations in advance
- Do you research on the person
- Figure out how you will break the ice
More details here.
#2 During the meeting
I have talked about this enough in the past, so I will let you read some of our other detailed 1 on 1 meeting guides on this.
How to break the ice
This can be an intimidating meeting for team members. It requires a certain amount of vulnerability and good-rapport for them to ask help from you. Put them at ease by:
- Asking fun Icebreaker questions before the meeting
- Taking an interest in their home & personal life (without being intrusive!). How’s everyone at home? Do they have pets? How’s their health? What hobbies do they have?
Remember that this is not about status updates or performance reviews. This is about zooming out and focusing on their personal growth. Some good topics include:
- Their career goals
- Their bonding with other team members
- Their task load & morale
- Skills they might want to acquire
- Vision of the team and their feedback on that
- Feedback on yourself as a leader
Good questions to ask
You can always google around for this, or use a tool like Kaapi to help you! A small preview of our questions library can be found here:
- Best questions for remote one on one meetings
- Good Icebreakers for zoom calls and professional settings
Recognise wins & failures
You should always praise in public, yes. But don’t forget to do it in your 1 on 1s too. This is a good time for you to also suggest improvements in their work & professional growth. Be detailed, yet concise and direct. And most importantly, try to be actionable in your feedback! This Harvard Business Review article does a good job of setting up the right guidelines for this.
You should stay away from status updates & project reviews in your 1 on 1. But you can check-in if the team member has any roadblocks you can help with e.g.
- They need something from a different team
- They are unsure about requirements of a project
- They aren’t aligned on a goal
A good one on one meeting template
If you are looking for an easy to use template that you can duplicate for your own meetings:
#3 After the meeting
You are almost done! Remember to send minutes-of-meeting over email and highlight important things. I prefer to add it to my meeting template and tag them via a comment.