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Published on December 21, 2018

How to Run an Effective One on One Meeting with Team Members

How to Run an Effective One on One Meeting with Team Members

The one on one meeting is a crucial and often underestimated management tool.

Not only is it an honest way to connect with employees and share the necessary information with them, but it is also a great way to hear their feedback.

What’s even more important – the one on one meeting is an opportunity to shape your employee’s experience and perception of you as a boss. In many cases, what they think about you and your management style will also be reflected in their opinion about the whole company or organization that you represent.

Running effective one on one meetings should be a priority for you as a manager or team leader. The 11 tips laid out in this article will help you make the most of this crucial time.

1. Get in the Right Mindset

A proper one on one session starts already before the meeting as you prepare your notes and your attitude for it.

Seeing the one on one meeting as an unwelcome distraction in your busy day won’t get you far.

Instead, take a few moments to clear your mind and focus on the person you are about to meet.

Start by reviewing your notes from the previous one-on-one with that employee, have a look at their latest performance stats, mark any complaints or praises you’ve received about them.

2. Make One on One Meetings a Regular Thing

The frequency of your one-on-ones largely depends on your company size and your management style. Some sources say that such meetings should be weekly, while others state that a bi-weekly or monthly schedule would do the trick.

A good idea is to set the next recurring meeting at the end of each current meeting so both parties can plan ahead for it.

Think about the frequency and length that would not seem too much for you or your employees, but would still be enough to keep everyone in the loop and maintain continuous contact.

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New employees should have one-on-ones more often, at least once every week or two weeks.

Recurring one on one sessions make feedback sharing a routine and encourage a culture of honesty. Besides, regular personal conversations make employees feel understood, trusted and valued in the company – thus boosting their intrinsic motivation.

3. Set a Time Limit for the Meetings

Schedule enough time for these conversations, but don’t make them too long either. Nobody will look forward to meetings that lose focus and just drag on forever.

The optimal length of each session also depends on the frequency of these meetings – for example, if you meet every week, a 30-minute session might be enough. If you meet once in a fortnight or a month, 60 minutes might be more effective.

Successful managers such as Andy Grove, Co-Founder and former CEO of Intel, have advised to do one-on-ones that last for at least one hour:’

“Anything less, in my experience, tends to make the subordinate confine himself to simple things that can be handled quickly.”

4. Make a List of Topics to Discuss

A general plan or structure for the meeting might help to get the conversation going – especially in the first few meetings. However, you don’t have to stick to the plan no matter what. See it rather as a reference that can help in case the conversation gets stuck or drifts too far from the topic.

A meeting agenda can also be helpful if the employee is introverted and won’t be likely to talk on his or her own.

For example, you can prepare three to five topics that you are most interested to know about. Or, you can keep a list of questions in front of you, but remember to be flexible – you don’t have to ask all of them if the conversation flows naturally.

Some ideas for questions that are likely to generate thorough answers:

  • Which part of the day do you feel most productive? Do you feel you’d need a different work schedule to improve your well-being and productivity?
  • What are your latest achievements that make you proud?
  • Do you have any suggestions that could help us work better as a team?
  • Is there anybody on the team you find hard to work with? Could you explain why?
  • Which of your tasks keep you engaged and inspired? Is there a way to make your daily tasks more engaging?
  • What are the main bottlenecks in your present project? Can I help in any way to move it along?
  • What are the things that worry you in your job or the office environment in general? Have you ever felt undervalued here?
  • Do you feel like you are learning enough at work? Which areas would you like to learn more about?
  • What can I do to improve my management style or to support you better?
  • What projects or tasks you would be interested in working on next?

Pro tip:

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Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt used to start his one-on-ones by comparing his lists with the ones his employees were asked to prepare before the meeting.[1] The items found on both lists were prioritized because they were likely to be the most pressing issues.

5. Keep It Casual and Change the Setting

If you aim to have an honest, relaxed and sincere conversation with your employee, think not only about your words and body language but also about the atmosphere at the meeting.

Your goal is to be professional and productive, but not necessarily awkward or stale.

First, find a relaxing place for a private conversation. Cozy furniture, warm colors, office plants or even a different view from the window has the potential of stirring up new ideas and suggestions. But you don’t even have to stick to a meeting room – why not go for a walk or have a coffee in a nearby cafe?

CEO of productivity tracking software DeskTime, Artis Rozentals, believes that one on one meetings should take place outside the usual constraints of the office:

“I find an opportunity to go on a longer one on one lunch with each of my team members to discuss everything in a casual atmosphere.”

He adds that informality doesn’t mean that the meeting takes place without preparation.

“Before the meeting, I draw up the topical questions and data, and share it with the respective employee, so that we both come prepared and have a fruitful conversation.”

6. Focus on the Employee

The employee should be the main focus of one on one conversations. The famous American businessman and author Ben Horowitz recommends that a manager should only talk for 10% of the time, leaving the rest of the talking to the team member.

Remember – as the person in the power position, you should set your ego aside and support your employee as well as you can.

Ideally, the conversation will flow naturally around whatever matters to him or her. If it doesn’t, ask open questions that could help them elaborate their position and express their feedback (see tip No 4).

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7. Listen like You Mean It

Your task is not only to let your employee talk. It’s also to listen – actively. This means you don’t listen just to be polite. You are actually trying to understand and remember everything that’s being shared.

Some active listening techniques:

  • Remain open-minded, confident, and listen to the person without drawing one-sided conclusions.
  • Show the employee you’re paying attention and occasionally summarize what they say.
  • Double-check if you understood some statements right to avoid misunderstandings (for example, ‘Did I get it right that you’d like the marketing team to join this project in order to avoid further delays?’).
  • Be receptive to everything you hear – even the criticism about your company or your own performance.

8. Share Relevant Information

We already mentioned that the employer should talk less and listen more. However, if you do have something important to say, and it affects this employee personally or professionally, the one on one meeting is the time to say it.

Are you preparing a new project or strategy that the employee should know about? Are you testing some new management tactics and would like them to be on board? Are new changes about to impact the company or your team in particular?

Make sure you keep each employee in the loop to avoid gossip and misinformation spreading in the office. If you tell them the news personally, they will also feel more valued and appreciated.

9. Write Down Notes

Most likely, you are in charge of more than one or two employees, so you shouldn’t rely on your memory to mark down all the important points every team member raises.

However, it is not recommended to write notes on your computer during the meeting. Why?

Having a laptop open can be easily interpreted as being distracted and not very interested in the conversation.

So you’ll have to take notes the old-fashioned way – by writing them down in a notebook, journal or a piece of paper.

Taking notes lets your team member see that you are actively engaged in the meeting and that the points laid out will be taken into account. In other words – that this is not just a waste of their time.

10. Leave with a Task or Takeaway

Just as everything else business-related, one on one meetings should have a purpose and an actionable outcome. In other words, make sure that you, your employee, or, ideally, both of you, leave with an action item or a task to be completed.

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To solidify this, send a quick email after the one on one meeting, rehashing the main things you went over. This will ensure that both of you are on the same page and aware of the next steps each side should take.

A recap email will take a few more minutes of your time but will undoubtedly prove worthwhile in the long run.

11. Don’t Neglect One-On-Ones with Your Remote Workers

Today, increasingly more managers work with a team that partly (or entirely) consists of remote workers. If you are one of them, know this:

One on one meetings are even more critical when it comes to your remote team.

Why? Because you can feel the sentiment of your in-house team every day in the office. At the same time, you might have no idea about how your outsourced or remote employees feel.

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, manages a company with 500 employees spanning two continents. Besides having quarterly meetings for all employees, he requires managers to have regular one-on-ones with each of their team members,[2] in addition to bi-annual performance reviews.

He points out:

“It’s a great way to show that managers care about the performance and well-being of the employee. Topics come up that otherwise wouldn’t in a regular discussion, like the kind of music being played in the office, for instance.”

Santa Lice-Kruze, Director of HR at Printful Latvia, agrees with Davis and ads:

”Conversations have to be built upon a basis of transparency and mutual trust. This is the time to ask how the person is doing, about his or her work-life balance, health, out-of-work activities, etc. You certainly have to ask if and how you can help with anything.”

See Eye to Eye with Your Employees

As a manager, you need to be consistent in everything you do – and one on one meetings are no exception. They don’t have to take place every day or even every week, but you need to be committed to them every single time.

Remember – your primary goal is supporting your employee’s performance. Having a regular personal chat with each of the people who report to you will help you see an increase in employee engagement. And this will likely lead to improved company culture and higher productivity for the whole company.

More Resources About Leadership at Work

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Ieva Baranova

Ieva helps tech startups access big markets and is a passionate advocate of alternative work formats.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually)

It’s Monday again… The annoying alarm breaks the piece of silence you are enjoying. You keep pressing snooze and don’t want to leave your bed. As the hour hand points to 8, every muscle in your body feels sore.

You arrive your office and turn on the computer at your seat. Everything seems so normal, except your mind wanders… you’re feeling bored at work…

If this sounds familiar to you, chances are you feel bored at work, and you are probably here to look for ways to get rid of this dreadful situation.

In this article, I’ll look into why you may feel bored at work, the little-known consequence of it and what to do when bored at work.

The Real Reason Why You’re Bored at Work

Boredom reveals the potential problems you have at work:

Your interest and your work don’t match.

It’s very common that our work doesn’t match our interest, but we might not realize it sometimes. It’s good for you to think about why you applied for this job and why you started your job at the first place:

Because the salary was attractive? Or you had no other options but this job interview? Or you just wanted a new environment?

If these are your major concerns, you need to reconsider your interests in this job.

You’re not using your capabilities fully.

Everyone has their strengths and talents. When your capabilities are not fully utilized at your job, you may find the assigned tasks not challenging at all.

Worse still, you may start to question your value in your company and gradually lose motivation at work.

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You have little opportunity for growth and learning.

Imagine you do the same tasks for two weeks, or two months, or two years, over and over. How would you feel? I’m sure you’ll be bored to death.

If your company doesn’t provide enough opportunities to grow and learn, and you can’t see any improvement, you will start to get disappointed and probably feel bored at your job.

You have too much idle time.

It’s important to take breaks at work. But when you are too free, it is a problem.

When you have too much idle time, your mind wanders off to somewhere else:

Thinking about where to eat, your relationship problems, or what your neighbor said this morning.

Although your mind is occupied, these thoughts are generated because you are bored.

You feel exhausted and tired.

You have so many goals to achieve in life or things to manage beyond work. It’s easy to shift your attention and energy away from your work because you are too occupied with other parts of your life.

While you pay less effort at work, the less motivated and interested you are in your job, which in turn bores you even more.

You have no clear goal.

People who have stayed in a position for a long time easily feel lost.

You start to get confused with what you want to obtain from the job. You get used to your repeating daily routine and gradually lose your passion and interests in your job.

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The Little-Known Consequences of Ignoring Your Boredom

You might think it’s okay to deal with your boredom later, but the longer you put this problem on hold, the more consequences you will face.

Don’t ignore your boredom, it might take a toll on you!

Increased stress

A number of readers of Stress Relief Workshop commented:[1]

  • Boring jobs can be really stressful.
  • Feeling like your skills are going to waste in your current job can be stressful.

Developing bad habits

Experts reckon people relieve their boredom by drinking alcohol, indulging in unhealthy food, or carrying out risky actions at work.

When you leave your problem unsolved, you might find stimulation elsewhere to override your boredom.

Poor mental health

A study[2] shows an upsetting fact young adults or fresh graduates may develop depressions or black moods, because they:

“find themselves having to do work that doesn’t stretch them and keep them fulfilled.”

Low productivity

Like I mentioned before, when you are bored and uninterested in what you do, your productivity drops drastically.

6 Things to Do When You’re Bored at Work

Boredom won’t go away unless you take actions.

So how to cure boredom? Fortunately there are ways you can change the situation:

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1. Tell your boss or supervisor about your working situation

It’s always good for you to talk to your boss or supervisor if they welcome feedback. They should be the right people to talk to as they can understand and help you.

You can request for more challenging tasks or work that fit your interests. This can not only get you out from boredom, your boss will also appreciate your willingness to improve and learn.

2. Try to do more than you are expected to

To use your ability and time fully, try to do more than what your boss requires. After you finish the repetitive or unchallenging tasks, spend some time to take on tasks that are beyond your responsibilities.

As time goes by, your boss will notice and recognize your work ethic. You may get interesting tasks in the future to keep you going!

3. Learn new skills when you are free

If you have too much downtime, expand your knowledge and learn something new. A well-equipped person is always the gem in a boss’ eyes.

For example, if you work in the design team but are not familiar with the use of design software, it’s a good chance for you to have some self-learning time.

4. Know what you want from your job

This is important — when you know your goal, it can motivate you to work!

It’s fine to take some time to discover your goal and passion. But please remember to jot it down on a note and stick it on your desk as a reminder.

You may also consider some career advice if you need help.

5. Take breaks to fight exhaustion

Taking rest is a preparatory step for a longer journey ahead. Don’t ever hesitate to take a break. You need it!

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It’s crucial for you if you want to achieve more. Just get back to work when you feel ready. Don’t underestimate the power of a short break!

6. Quit your job if it’s holding you back

If you still find your work boring after trying every single method above, you should consider quitting your current job.

Opportunities are everywhere, there may be a better job waiting for you.

Make a change in your life and treat yourself better!

Final Thoughts

When you feel bored at work, it’s actually a warning sign you shouldn’t overlook. It could mean you’re missing a purpose in life.

If you let this boredom continue, you’re putting your mental health and happiness at stake.

Stop doing the same thing every day and let yourself feel bored. Start making a change to make yourself feel enthusiastic again about your career and your life.

Featured photo credit: officevibe via officevibe.com

Reference

[1] Life Stress Balls: Stress at work
[2] Sunday Post: Being bored at work is bad for your health

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