Our 37 Point Guide Enables YOU As A Manager To Build A Highly Motivated Team. As An Employee You Will Show Your Professionalism & Promotability…

Holding a great one on one meeting means you will have a highly motivated and energized employee.  Repeat the process over and over again with your employees to have a high performing team.

What Is A One On One Meeting?

A “one on one” meeting, also known as a “one to one” (121 meeting) is a way for a manager or team leader to stay personally and professionally connected to a team member.  It is also a great way for the team member to stay connected to their manager.

In my experience, an average or poor manager will neglect to have regular one on one meetings because they are “too busy” or they have more important priorities.

If you want to be an average leader of an average team, then ignore One on One meetings at your peril

What Is The Purpose Of A One On One Meeting With Staff?

The aged business textbooks, business schools, and average managers will tell you that the one on one meeting is the best way to chase your employees and ensure they are doing the work that they should in the way you want them to do it.  But that could not be further from the truth.

The goal of any great leader is to build a strong confident team, who can perform to the highest levels and make great decisions, knowing they have your support

Having a team that performs at its best, means you have more time to focus on strategy and future planning and the team focus on delivering the results.

Why Is A One To One Meeting Important?

The often neglected personal one on one meeting is important for many reasons.  Ultimately it enables you to connect on a level with that person that you cannot do in a team meeting environment.

I personally believe that a great team is built from great one on ones, then great team meetings and then proving that as a team you can deliver astounding results.


Benefits Of A One On One Meeting For The ManagerThe Manager

Whether you are a manager, director, vice president or CEO of a company, you cannot and should not skip your personal meetings with your direct staff.  If you do, you will miss out on a wealth of information and your opportunity to develop motivated employees and the next generation of leaders.

It all starts with a conversation.

You have the opportunity to speak directly with the employee.

If your only contact with a member of staff is on the office floor or in the team meeting, then you are missing out on the level of conversation and interaction you need to form a relationship.  I am not talking about a deep and meaning personal relationship, I am talking about a professional relationship with a respect for the individual.  There are simply topics that cannot and should not be discussed in a multi-person setting.

You can connect on a personal level.

Never underestimate the importance of the personal connection.  You do not need to know what the person ate for breakfast, nor do you want to know how they contracted that sexually transmitted disease, somewhere in between is ideal.  Too personal and everyone thinks you are their best friend; too impersonal everyone will not feel comfortable with you.  Strike the right balance and personal connection and you are able to build trust.

Never start a one on one meeting with business, ask them genuinely “how they are and how is the family?”  they are human too.

You can get a feel for the current politics and conflicts within the team.

Talking within a secure environment allows team members to express if they are experiencing harassment or negative political infighting within the team.  This can enable you to establish plans start to eradicate unprofessional behavior in the team.

You can get regular updates on their work.

You should ask for an update on their work but allow them to prioritize what they talk about.  The question “what would you like to discuss” is open-ended enough to allow them to go through their updates. In your mind or on paper you should know the critical activities they are working on, so if they have not covered them ensure to make time at the end of the meeting.

You can ask them to take on new challenges.set targets take on new challenges

Rather than force work upon someone in a team meeting, the respectful way is to talk about it in the one to one.  You may think a certain employee is the right person with the right skills to take on a new challenge, but they may disagree.  They might feel insecure or feel they do not have the right skills or even think someone else in the team could do a better job.

You can ask them to help other struggling team members.

A great way of fostering a winning team is to ask your high achievers to help out other team members who are struggling with a task.  It is almost like a mini promotion because the person feels like they can assist and help others to succeed, it makes them feel needed and is highly motivational.

You can iron out conflict in a private setting.

Not everyone stays happy and motivated all the time, in fact, some people are downright miserable unless everything is going their way.  One of the finest people I ever hired is a cantankerous Hungarian from Slovakia.  He has a pinpoint intellect and wants to challenge every decision he does not agree with. In fact, that was the reason I hired him, I knew he would challenge my direction and always provide an alternative view.  If I won him over, I knew I was on the right path.  Sometimes we agreed to disagree, but if we disagreed strongly the one on one meeting was the place to talk it out and resolve the issue.

You get to hear first and congratulate them on their successes.

Despite the number of times team members have told me of what they have overcome and the goal they have achieved, it never gets old.  I love it.  The fact I get to hear it from them personally enables be to congratulate them and enjoy their glow.  The additional bonus is that I can mention it in the team meetings and congratulate them in a group setting, which is highly motivating for the employee and the team alike.

You can help them through issues they are having difficulty with.

Almost nobody operates at top performance levels all the time.  In fact, some of your best people can struggle with certain issues that they would never discuss in public, but in a one to one it all comes out.  I worked with an extremely intellectually gifted person at Hewlett Packard.  He was so smart that he had to educate me for a couple of months, so I could even understand what he was even talking about.

His issue was being able to talk in simple terms to simple people (like me and the rest of the planet).  After spending so much time with him in one on one meetings I finally started to get what he was saying.  This person, let’s call him Stephen, started a movement that led to a transformation in our outsourcing business worth over $300 million dollars in savings, productivity improvement and, innovative thinking.  I acted as his translator, his management advocate and defended him against senior management detractors and together we changed an organization of over 25,000 people.

You can coach them to success.

Some people simply need to know they are on the right track.  The act of coaching is not to tell people what to do and how to do it, but in effect, it is the art of helping people draw their own conclusions and giving them constructive feedback on how to reach that conclusion.  If you give people the time and helpful guidance to come to the right conclusion, it feeds their self-confidence.  Also, by helping them along during the decision-making and problem-solving process you are also instilling in them your personal and professional values.  Always be respectful and help them get to that decision.  Learn more about managing remote teams.

If you do it right, they will follow you and be your supporter. Why?  Because they know you support them, and you want them to be successful.


Why Is The One On One Session Important For You The Employee?

As an employee, a “one on one session” is important for many reasons from the personal connection to strategic alignment and guidance.

Time with your boss is quality time.

If your manager is a great manager, you will believe that your time with him is going to help you succeed in your job.  Fundamentally, you want to progress and be successful at your work.  That gives you meaning in what you do, it even gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning (apart from the money honey).  If you have a great boss, his job is to help YOU be great too.

You get to establish a personal relationship.building a personal relationship with your boss

The best people I have worked for, always spent a little time to get to know me.  I was never someone to expose my deepest personal secrets, like my stag party in Amsterdam, but I was willing to share my hobbies, interests and family stories.  And frankly, that is enough.  Your boss is not interested in the argument you had with your partner, but they should be interested in your general wellbeing.  Your manager is not your best friend, but they should be a trusted colleague and a professional confidant.

It enables you to get direct input from your boss.

If you are struggling with a situation with a customer, or your work colleagues are giving you hell you should feel free to discuss it with your manager.  If you are in a position that requires you to make many decisions and you are unsure of the right direction you should take your time to walk through the decision-making process with them.  It will give you the opportunity to see how they think and enable you to make more confident decisions going forward.

You can demonstrate your good decision making and work ethic to your manager.demonstrate good decision making with your boss

As you make better decisions in line with your manager’s direction and vision (if they even have a vision) you are actually demonstrating your ability to operate with more independence and empowerment.  This means you move away from micro-management or being overly supervised to be a trusted member of staff.

Being highly trusted in a team and organization paves the way to creature comforts like working from home a few days a week, or even being a backup for your boss when he is on holiday.  Being your managers stand’in is the first step to promotion.

You get to challenge your manager’s decisionsopportunity to challenge decisions

The best place to challenge a decision or direction is in a one to one.  There is no point being an aggressive leader of the resistance in a team meeting and being a pussy in a one to one.  Hammer out the things you disagree in private and be positive in a public setting and you will be moving in the right direction.


 

The Timing & Reoccurrence Of One On One Meetings For Managers

I have literally conducted thousands of one on one meetings with the thousands of people I have managed over the 25 years I have been in the corporate world.  I can tell you this.

Make the one to one meeting about the employee, not about you.

If you want to achieve your goals, that means every member of your team needs to achieve their goals.  So, it is not about you, it is about them.

How Long Should A One On One Meeting Be?

Never longer than 30 minutes.  You can extend it if required, especially if there is so much of high importance to discuss.  But you have to adhere to the maths.  If you have a small team of 20 people and you have a weekly one to one meeting that is 10 hours of your week gone.  If that one to one is one hour long, you are spending literally 50% of your time on it, that is too much.  Your default needs to be 30 minutes twice per month.  The only exception is struggling employees who may get 30 minutes weekly for a short duration to help them get back on track.

How Often Should You Have A One On One Meeting?

If you want to maintain a strong working relationship with your team the one on one meeting comes in only two formats.  The Weekly One to One, and the Bi-Weekly One to One.

The timing of the one on one meetings depends on the following factors:

The experience of the team member.

If the person is new and/or relatively inexperienced they may need a more regular one on one meeting.  It is certainly worth assigning someone a mentor or guardian within the team to help them acclimatize to the work, but still, they will gain great value with time spent with you. You may need to conduct weekly one to ones with them to ensure they are on the right path.

If the person is highly experienced and a trusted operator, I would suggest a one on one every two weeks.  You could make it every month, but honestly, that is not regular enough, you may only get to speak to someone for 6 hours per year with a 30 minute one to one.  Even for your best employees that is not enough.

The challenges the person faces.

When the horse manure hits the fan and you are lucky enough to have a highly experienced operator in your team to delegate that crisis too, you should think about turning your bi-weekly one on one into a weekly one, or even more often as they may need your support.

Low Performing Employees Require More Effort.

Despite all your efforts, there will always be a few employees who have stopped caring.  Despite how much you try to help, coach and guide they seem to not respond and not deliver.  This is usually because they have their eyes on another prize.  A move to another company where the grass is greener, or even they are close to retirement and have literally stopped caring.  When this is the case, sometimes you have to give up the ghost.

If they are young, strongly encourage them to find another job (preferably outside of your company).  If they are retiring, grant them the dignity they deserve, wish them luck and even ask them to coach other team members, so you can relieve them of their pressured day to day duties. Learn more about managing remote teams.


How To  Conduct One On Ones With Employees?

During my decades of management, I never had a written agenda for the 121 meeting.  But over time it developed into a fairly solid structure, that I feel worked perfectly every time.

One On One Agenda For Managers (Every Two Weeks)

  1. A few minutes of Small Talk: Ask them how they are, and be genuine
  2. Ask them for a summary of what they would like to discuss
  3. Tell them what you would like to discuss
  4. Discuss the most important points and provide guidance
  5. Make a note of any important actions for the next one to one, or announcements for the team meeting
  6. Closeout and thank them for the work they are doing or remind them of what they need to do to improve.

The Weekly One On One Meeting Agenda For Managers

If you are doing a weekly one to one it means the person needs special focus, the following agenda should meet the needs.

  1. A few minutes of Small Talk: Ask them how they are, and be genuine
  2. Jump into the critical issues and provide guidance
  3. Make a note of any important actions for the next one to one, or announcements for the team meeting
  4. Closeout and thank them for the work they are doing or remind them of what they need to do to improve.

Monthly One On One Meetings

This is the exception rather than the rule, as mentioned previously if you only meet with someone once per month you do not have a practical working relationship with that person, or you are a VP or CEO that simply does not have the time.  In either case, it is not an optimal situation.


What Should You Ask Or Discuss With Your Manager In A One On One?

As an employee, I am going to give you one very important piece of advice.

Your manager’s time is important, they have 20 other employees like you, so you want to be able to demonstrate your professionalism and respect for their attention.

Be Prepared

Prepare for your one to one meeting at least 30 minutes in advance and take the time to have all your questions written down.

If you are truly professional, you will have a notebook or excel sheet ready to take down notes throughout your working week of decisions you need your manager to make or input you require.

Be Clear On The Actions You Need Your Manager To Take.

If they need to send an announcement or call to action on your behalf, send them the draft before the meeting and ask them to action it during the meeting.

What To Discuss With Your Manager In The One On One?

Have a list of not only the decisions or actions they need to take but take the opportunity to share your wins or challenges.  Usually, your manager is your manager because they are older, wiser or have more experience.  Use them to improve your performance and help you succeed on your path to a “Great Work Life”.

Barry's 25 years of experience with Silicon Valley Corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & DXC Technology enables him to share his knowledge of succeeding in today's professional corporate environments and develop a great work life for yourself.

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