How to Conduct One-on-One Meetings as a Manager

How to Conduct One-on-One Meetings as a Manager

7 min read
How to Conduct One on One Meetings as a Manager On

One on One (1 on 1) is the best form of meeting for the exchange of feedback, plans, and misunderstandings, as well as the company’s goals between managers and employees.

To be effective, these meetings need solid preparation from both parties, but it happens quite a while that such preparation is missing, as well as the practice of showing employees how to prepare for these meetings.

This type of communication can be a key factor for maintaining good company-employee relations, which is why we take a closer look at this topic. In the following lines, we tell you more about how to conduct the best one-on-one meeting as a manager, as well as the practices of managers in Joberty.  

Benefits of 1 on 1 Meeting

This form of communication is equally useful for both managers and employees, and for a company in general.

To employees, these meetings give a sense of awareness of the current position, place, and role within a team, based on continual feedback from a superior. It will also provide them with guidance on further progress and development.

For managers, it is an enablement to follow each team member, have an individual approach, and support them to unlock their potential. Additionally, these meetings are a path toward detecting potential problems and their timely resolution. This way the managers also enhance their leadership and management skills.

Our Delivery Manager in Joberty, Vuk Panic thinks that:

"The advantage of a 1-on-1 meeting is that within a comfort zone (safe environment) you can talk with the employee about all possible problems, challenges, and things that bother him/her about work, colleagues, and everything that bothers him/her. Also, one of the biggest advantages is informal communication, which allows us to solve all current problems through a simple conversation."

This all leads to greater involvement and engagement of both parties. Furthermore, this can have a positive effect on their productivity and results, and eventually on better business results for the entire company. In addition, in an environment with a culture of dialogue and openness, the level of commitment and, therefore, the retention of people in the company, in all positions, is higher.

1 on 1 Meeting Topics

The 1 on 1 meeting serves as a brief update to managers and provides insight and assessment of projects, determination of the further steps, etc.

Topics can be more specific, such as further professional development of the employee, defining steps to improve performance, changes in the company’s organization, annual performance review, or benefits for the employee.

There are several basic points that should be covered in order for such meetings to become a regular part of the company's relationship and culture.

How  to Approach the Organisation of 1-on-1 Meetings

Frequency: Having such meetings on a regular basis is important because the relationship is maintained, it remains in progress, and the planned implementation is carried out in accordance with the agreements and deadlines. They can be organized once a week or once a month, depending on the nature of the work. It is important to be regular and part of a standard work routine. The recommended duration is 30-60 minutes, with the fact that the more often they are held, they can last even shorter.

Vuk adds:

"It is necessary to have 1-on-1 meeting appointments until this way of communication becomes a regular form of communication, where employees don't have any barriers in giving feedback or pointing out a problem. Even though the culture in my team is at such a level where there is constant communication about employee satisfaction, plans, and work, I still find it necessary to have a specific time booked on a monthly or quarterly level in order to devote the time to the employee's development."

A similar opinion is shared by Sara Milosavljevic, our Growth and Community Manager.

"I think that it should definitely be fixed at some level (say quarterly or even monthly, if the period is more intense), but I constantly encourage team members to have the freedom to schedule 1:1 meetings outside of these times if necessary at that moment. Also, ad-hoc 1:1 meetings are scheduled by managers if the situation say so."

Face-to-Face: This kind of direct communication is most effective and therefore face-to-face meetings should be held live whenever possible. An adequate alternative would be a video call.

Notes and Follow-up: A brief summary after the meeting, with the next steps agreed upon, will ensure the mutual understanding of the parties and no misinterpretations about future actions. In addition, it can represent a mini "archive" of these meetings, a possibility to track what has been discussed previously, how far the progress has gone, etc.

Preparation is Key: In order to have efficient and effective meetings, preparation is required for both parties. Determining a clear topic and agenda for the meeting allows both parties to prepare the key points that are to be highlighted, appropriate questions, arguments, and a better understanding of each other.

Marko Negovan, Joberty's Senior Marketing Manager shares this practice:

"Every 1-on-1 meeting is different but requires the same meeting management model. As a manager, before every 1-on-1 meeting, I prepare and determine the topics that I will discuss, and if the meeting is initiated by an employee, I ask him/her to indicate to me what topics we will discuss. I consider it extremely important that the employee knows that he/she can always initiate a 1-on-1 meeting with me in order to go through any topic that is important at a given moment. Therefore, the topics are determined by the initiator of the meeting, but it is necessary to know them before the meeting so that the other party can prepare for it."

Things That Managers Should Pay Attention to

Let’s not forget that even the managers have their own superiors, which place them in both roles within an organization. From the position of superior, they should keep in mind several things.

Employee expectations: Employees appreciate it if a manager comes to the meeting well prepared, with a clear agenda and a clear understanding of what he or she is working on. Show that you remember the previous conversation and agreed points.

Overbooking and time constraints often prevent managers from being adequately prepared for such meetings. Keep in mind that well-planned meetings, with a professional dose of empathy that you show, will in the long term ensure that every team member is treated fairly and with respect.

And what happens when an employee suggests or asks for a 1-on-1 meeting. What would be the best way to organize that?  

"I have always tried to encourage employees to communicate, whether it is through the classic form of a 1on1 meeting or a spontaneous meeting, I am always glad when an employee requests a meeting. The goal is to communicate as much as possible, transparent and clear communication is the key, and whether it is a classic form of 1-on-1 meeting or a spontaneous call meeting, that is less important." - mentions our Chief Sales & Operations Officer, Djordje Vukotic.

Listening to needs: The purpose of the 1 on 1 meeting is not only to convey new assignments or to firmly insist on the company’s decisions when there is a controversial situation. Adjust your approach, and provide an atmosphere for an employee to feel valued and free to express their own opinion.  

By helping in problem-solving and moving forward, you show that you care. Make sure the employee has everything needed, by taking care of whether all the information or resources affecting the quality of job performance are provided. Get them thinking about specific topics and show interest in their challenges and needs. Encourage them to initiate the conversation or even run the meeting themselves. Thus, the degree of hierarchy will be blurred, and you will also make them respect you more.

Be present: Both physically and mentally. Maybe not every 1 on 1 meeting with an employee is equally important for you, but the employees should not feel that. Keep focus during the meeting - avoid checking emails, turn off your cell phone and try to keep distractions to a minimum.

You are also expected to bring the meeting back on track when it goes off the main topic and loses focus of the meeting.

Lack of interest has an effect on an employee’s motivation, which is exactly the opposite of the main goal of such meetings.

Respect other people's time: Plan these activities as a regular event in your calendar and stick to the schedule. Postponing until the last minute or shortening the meeting duration will give the employee the impression of not being among your priorities. By doing so, you will also show a lack of respect for them.

Long-term trust and better relationships

One-on-one meetings can be a great opportunity for managers and employees to exchange information and talk openly. In order to get the most out of these meetings, preparation is key.

Marko shared one more important reason why this type of meeting can be useful:

"The key advantage of 1-on-1 meetings is the ability to discuss more directly and openly all key aspects of business and the impact on employee satisfaction, which they are not comfortable doing in group meetings. This is especially important for more introverted employees who often do not want to give you feedback on changes being introduced within the company or sector - whether that feedback is positive or negative."

Whether you lead a team, or you are a team member, be the one who initiates the conversation. Regular meetings on different topics help to get to know each other better, both professionally and privately. They also improve mutual relations, build trust, and contribute to the fact that employees, at any level, will not want to leave.

Do you already hold meetings like this? Share your experiences and opinions with us!

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