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Improve your team’s performance with effective 1-2-1 meetings

People Management

Improve your team’s performance with effective 1-2-1 meetings

Updated: 19 October 2021

You’ve spent time and money recruiting your team, but how do you ensure you’re getting the best out of them? Regular one on one catch ups can help you build genuine and powerful working relationships, and help your employees fire on all cylinders.

For the latest in our Take 10 series, we’ve put together a list of 10 top tips to help you make the most of these important meetings.

1) Create a safe environment to help your employees flourish

A 1-2-1 is a regular meeting which keeps you connected  with your employee. It should be held in a safe environment, somewhere private so you can both be open without others listening in, where you can give and receive honest feedback.

Ideally these meetings would take place in person, but if you’re managing someone remotely using a Google Hangout or phone call can work.

2) Prioritise your 1-2-1

It’s easy to skip 1-2-1 meetings when your to do list looks monumental. However, even if it’s a 10 minute coffee this time is crucial in understanding your employee and what’s happening in their world. It could also be a good opportunity to address employee goals or performance in advance of any issues.

Missing a 1-2-1 only delays your responsibilities, rather than saving you time. For example, if your 1-2-1 is to address objectives or personal requests you’ll need to do this at some point anyway. A face to face meeting saves you time on emails and lets your employee know you care about their goals too.

3) Put together an agenda

To help focus the meeting and ensure you cover off all the important items, encourage your employees to send you an agenda of topics they’d like to discuss before your meeting. This will help you understand what your employee has going on and perhaps manage expectations.

To ensure you’re prepared for the meeting, it’s important to give yourself time ahead to review the agenda and add to it, if needed.

4) Have a recurring event in your diary

The best way to make your 1-2-1 a ritual you’re both committed to, and ensure others don’t book over it, is to set a recurring meeting in your diaries. Agree up front how often and how long works for your situation, however about 20 minutes a week is the recommend timeslot or 40 minutes every fortnight. It’s down to whatever works for your relationship, though.

5) Think about the meeting format

Whether it’s a walk, coffee outside the office or just a chat in a quiet corner,  changing up the format of your meeting can help lose some of the stiffness and encourage a better bond. Depending on what you need to discuss, a private area might be more appropriate, but feeling comfortable will enable you both to speak more openly.

It’s been shown that  movement, such as walking, can help us speak more freely.

6) Warm up, don’t dive into the serious stuff

If you want your employee to tell you what they really think, don’t start asking the big questions right away. Most people need some time to warm up and relax, so talk about their interests outside of work, or how they’re getting on at home. In addition, by getting to know your employee, you’ll be able to understand why they make decisions and offer better counsel.

7) Ask questions

In some cases the conversation will flow, but some employees might need a little prod to let you know how things are really going. For example, you could ask what they see as the blockers for certain tasks or projects giving you a chance to offer advice and mentor your employee.

It’s important to remember to let them ask questions and listen. If you don’t let them ask questions, over time they may feel it’s not a safe environment for them to learn or challenge others.

8) Give constructive feedback

The goal of a 1-2-1 is ultimately to help your employee grow and it’s a great opportunity to give feedback. Whether it’s good or bad, saying it will help your employee develop. Showing gratitude for hard work, even if it’s nothing out of the ordinary, is a great way to keep your employees motivated.

9) Take notes so you don’t forget what was discussed

Taking notes in a format you and your employee can both review, add to and discuss will help you both keep track of your meetings. This can be done easily online using Google Docs, Trello or OneNote. Keeping a record will also mean you can refer back as needed.

10) Workout whether the format and content works, together

The aim of your 1-2-1 is to maximise communications with your employee, so you can help them improve, and gather knowledge about what’s going on day to day. It’s important to review your 1-2-1 format and consider whether it’s working. You can always risk trying another format or mix it up depending what you’re discussing.

If something didn’t work, give it a try with another format, or ask someone else to help.

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