Having effective 1:1s is probably one of the most underrated things in a manager’s toolkit and as such, one of the first discussions I have with my coachees.
There are lots of Do-s and Don’t-s, but if I had to get to the core of what makes a 1:1 great, I would say this:
People (regardless of their age, title, experience or expectations) fundamentally want to be heard, understood and appreciated.
Once you embrace this, you will make a conscious effort to listen, focus on the individual, and give the support and direction they need to excel in their job. When the meeting becomes a ToDo-list tracker, you know you got it wrong.
Ok, so how do (mainly inexperienced) managers typically screw things up:
> Make the meeting about you and not the other person - it is their time to share what’s on their mind and not yours to list all the things you need from them.
> Focus on projects and deliverables - it is ok to discuss some, but an effective 1:1 is about stepping back and looking at the big picture of how the person is doing.
> No feedback - people need to know how they are doing and what they can do better. Incorporating feedback as a standard part of the 1:1s makes it less stressful as a discussion point (and best if it’s 2-way so you can learn something too).
> No next steps - as a manager, you want the other person to leave feeling empowered, having clear direction, and actionable feedback.
> No regular catch ups - it’s best practice to have weekly 1:1s (canceling them / moving them around a lot makes the other person feel unimportant).