In our experience, how to have effective one to one meetings with employees is a common development need for both new and experienced managers.
It’s a fundamental rule of management that to lead others you need to practice frequent and open communication. The general rule of thumb is that managers can best accomplish this by holding regular one-on-one meetings with the people they manage, usually weekly or close to it. It’s a simple idea that sounds good, and yet so many employees complain that these meetings are unhelpful, or worse, don’t actually happen at all.
Managers often ask us how to have effective one to one meetings with employees. There’s no magic to it but the first and most important thing is to have a schedule for one to one meetings and stick to it. The most common reason we hear managers give for not holding one to ones is that they’re too busy. The second most common reason (or excuse?) is “I don’t need to formally sit down with my team, I see them every day”.
It’s a nice idea to think you can catch up with your individual team members in a meaningful way over a quick coffee, but in reality we don’t think this approach works. By making a commitment to a schedule of one to ones both you and your team member will better prepare, you’ll take them seriously. We’ve lost count of the number of times employees have said to us that their managers never stick to their one to ones, making them feel unvalued, an expendable action in the manager’s busy schedule.
Our advice is to try to stick with the meetings and have cancellations be the exception.
The second thing to remember if you want to know how to have effective one to one meetings is to remember that a good one to one meeting is two way, it is a conversation. This doesn’t mean it’s a session for random unstructured chatting! In our opinion it works best if the manager starts off with what their team member needs to discuss and then the manager moves onto their own list. You’ll find that quite quickly your team member will follow your lead, if they see you coming ready to discuss issues, they will too. It’s worth remembering to leave a bit of spare time to discuss more open-ended issues like training and development needs, future plans etc.
The third, but most important thing to remember if you want to know how to have effective one to one meetings is to be present, be in the moment. Don’t schedule the one to ones between back to back meetings which mean you may arrive late and have to leave before you have fully completed the discussions. Go somewhere quiet, switch off your phone, let people know that you are not to be disturbed. Giving someone your full, uninterrupted attention makes a huge impact. It’s so rare, and I believe is a large part of what people mean when they say someone has “presence.”
So how to have effective one to one meetings isn’t magic, but it is straightforward:
- schedule your one to ones for the year
- respect the importance of the one to one, make cancelling the exception
- come to the meeting prepared to discuss issues
- be “present”, focus on your employee and prevent all other distractions.
What to do Next
Got a new manager or supervisor who is struggling with how to have effective one to ones give us a call on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.
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