Revisiting One-on-One Meetings
Updated: Apr 17
In my opinion, one-on-ones are the most important meetings you can have with your direct reports. They are essential for building a strong team culture and for enhancing employee engagement.
If you’re not having one-on-ones, now is the time to add them to your schedule. If you are having them, I dare say that now is the time to redesign them.
Say goodbye to status check-ins. They’re a waste of valuable time. Instead use the time to explore what’s working and what’s not.
Use the time to pause, reflect, strengthen rapport and re-energize. Use your one-on-ones to coach, share ideas, give feedback, talk about career development.
Rather than starting one-on-ones with: “How’s it going?” Use the first few minutes to cultivate care and connection. You might say, “How is your energy these days?”
Use these meetings to uncover issues/concerns by asking questions like: Do you have the tools and resources you need to do your job well? What are you excited about? What’s one idea you or your team have that seems a little crazy and potentially really valuable? What’s keeping you up at night? Where do you feel stuck?
Reconnect your direct reports to your mission. Help them see the positive impact they’re making. Give them a sense of purpose. Help them see how their role contributes to the broader mission. And why it matters. Ask them what they find meaningful in their work. Tell them what connects you to the mission.
Use your one-on-one meetings to have career conversations. Two-thirds of people leave because of lack of career-development opportunities. Spend time understanding your direct reports’ motivations and ambitions. Identify opportunities inside your company that will help them fulfill unrealized ambition. Offer to help them reshape their work to be more meaningful. Help them job craft.
You want to send your employees out of one-on-ones with an understanding that they have the support they need to push projects forward. And, you want to leave these sessions knowing that there’s alignment on strategies and goals.
Don’t stop. These aren’t one-time conversations.
If you're ready to learn more, here are three of my favorite resources on the topic:
How to Unlock the Value from Your One-on-One Sessions by Art Petty
Make the Most of Your One-on-One Meetings by Steven G. Rogelberg
Three common traps to avoid when it comes to one-on-ones by Suzi McAlpine