I have already talked about common mistakes during 1 on 1 meetings, how frequently to run them and good agenda items. And here is a great checklist you can use to run your one on one meetings. I want to quickly talk about an important philosophy that managers need to understand:
One on one meetings are owned by the team member, not by the manager. Managers should use this meeting for coaching, not performance evaluations or status updates. Do 80% listening, 20% talking.
This is slightly tricky in practice because:
- If your direct reportee is not doing the meetings well, it will affect you
- You have to throw away your manager’s hat. And bring out your inner coach
- There is very little information on the internet about 1 on 1 meetings for employees. Most 1 on 1 meeting guides are built for managers.
Here are a few things that will help you implement this well:
- Set expectations right - Make this point a part of your very first one on one meeting with the team member. In that meeting, you should talk about the fact that this is 80% about them, and 20% about you. You can also talk about successful team members who used these 1 on 1 meetings well in the past.
- Give your direct reports helpful guides - on what kind of questions to ask and good agenda templates that they can use. This is very meta, but coaching on how to do better coaching is a good skill to have!
- Lead from the front - Be vulnerable yourself. Tell your direct report about things that bother you and skills that you are trying to get better at. Talk about the negative feedback you have got in the past and how you got better at it. This opens the door for better rapport and sparks meaningful conversations during 1 on 1s.