The cadence of having one-on-one meetings with your direct reports may seem simple, yet for many leaders, sticking with this cadence is challenging.

In this blog, I’m going to:

  • Recap the importance and benefits of having 1:1 meetings with your direct reports (you probably know this, but hey, we can all use a reminder )
  • Share the top two reasons these meetings don’t happen and what you can do to ensure these reasons don’t become your reality

Importance and Benefits of 1:1 Meetings

They serve to help build relationships between leaders and their teams.

These meetings give leaders the opportunity to understand how their team members are feeling, to learn about what’s on their mind – what they’re excited about and what they’re concerned about.

When leaders get curious and really listen to what their team members say, team members can’t help but feel a stronger connection to their leader – and when the leader has a deep understanding of what’s going on with their team members, their connection to them is also strengthened.

Additionally, these meetings provide the time to privately discuss and debate issues, which in the end helps prevent issues from festering and causing problems further down the road.

They provide opportunity for leaders to share timely feedback to team members.

One-on-one meetings are great places to share informal feedback. Imagine you observed one of your team members rolling their eyes and disengaging in an important meeting – it would be easy to take note of this and even easier to forget to share this observation and its impact with the team member. Having dedicated one on one time helps ensure you’re able to share observations and feedback in a timely manner.

They increase productivity.

Think about how much time you spend writing emails and having impromptu conversations to gather the information you need from your team members. One-on-one meetings are a great place to do all of this all at once.

They enable the leader and team member to align on goals, priorities, and action items.

Let’s face it, the pace of business is moving faster and faster.  Decisions are being made on the fly, initiatives are ever changing and new to do’s are popping up all over.  One-on-one meetings are a great time for leaders and team members to ensure they’re aligned and focused on the most critical aspects of the business.

Top 2 Reasons 1:1 Meetings Don’t Actually Happen And How To Ensure This Doesn’t Become Your Reality

Leaders either don’t prioritize the time or don’t believe they have the time.

This is often driven by an inability to say “no” to other meetings that come up. Of course, the reality is other higher priority meetings you need to attend will arise, but I guarantee you every other meeting that conflicts with a one on one with one of your team members isn’t always a higher priority.

The keys here are to:

  1. Be disciplined in how you manage your time. Let others know that meeting with your team members is important to your and their success.
  2. Not react and assume you need to be at every other meeting or that every other meeting takes priority over the one on one’s – be sure you understand why you’re needed at a meeting and consider whether or not someone else could go in your place.

Leaders aren’t sure how to structure the meetings to ensure they get the most out of them.

All too often, I’ve heard leaders say, “We don’t need to do our 1:1, I don’t really have anything to discuss.”  This can be an issue for a couple reasons.  First, it’s because you haven’t thought about or prepared for the meeting and are using the “I don’t have anything to discuss” as an excuse.  Second, even if you have prepared and don’t have anything you feel needs to be discussed, that may not be the case for your team member – and many team members will feel obligated to pass on the one-on-one meeting if that’s what their leader wants.

Remember the one-on-one meeting is about both of you.

The keys here are to:

  1. Have a structured agenda for the things that should be discussed and prepare for the meeting based on that agenda. Some things to consider including in your one-on-one meetings might be:
    • Recent wins and challenges of the team member
    • Support or resources needed by the team member
    • Review of current project and/or priorities
    • FYI – what each of you think the other needs to be aware of
    • Future opportunities seen by you and the team member
    • Feedback and/or observations
    • Go forward actions
  2. Conduct these meetings on a regular basis. For some, that might mean weekly, for others it might mean twice a month and yet for others, it might mean monthly. If you’re unsure how often to have the meetings, start weekly and adjust from there.

While creating your one-on-one meeting cadence and preparing for these meetings isn’t always easy or convenient, remember … they are important for building relationships, sharing feedback, driving productivity, ensuring alignment, and identifying opportunities.

If you’d like some support developing your one-on-one cadence, reach out, I’d love to help –