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How to make your one-to-ones more productive

How to make your one-to-ones more productive

Having a one-to-one with your team members is vital to ensuring they feel valued. They’ll have the chance to address their concerns to you, understand their place in the organisation a little more, and (if you’re lucky) could give you their opinions on how they think your company should improve.

For these reasons, your one-to-ones should be planned in advance, be as organised as possible, giving you the time to discuss any areas for personal improvement your team member could consider while also making sure you hear their thoughts and feelings. There is a balance, as whilst you want to maximise your time together, pulling together a rigid agenda may not make for the best meeting as you want your team member to feel relaxed and for the conversation to be open.

To help you coordinate a productive one-to-one meeting with your team member, I’ve come up with this list of top tips.

    Firstly, let’s look at planning:

    • Schedule One-to-One’s
      Always schedule one-to-one meetings in advance and do everything you can, not cancel them. Cancelling them because something important has come up could leave your team member feeling undervalued and not as important as your other priorities.
    • Venue
      Book a private room where you can have a conversation that’s not going to be overheard. Switch off your mobile phone to ensure you are giving your team member 100% of your attention.
    • 80/20 Rule
      Allow your team member to do most of the talking, it’s their opportunity to ask for support, seek approval or advice on their current workload.

      Now, let’s consider the content of the meeting…

      • Review objectives
        Having regular one-to-ones gives an opportunity for your team member to share their progress and discuss where they may need your support; such as helping to remove barriers to enable them to achieve their objectives. Regular reviews, done properly, gives the manager the opportunity to recognise good performance as well as identify areas for improvement.
        This reduces the risk of surprises at the year-end review. We could discuss the latest approach on performance management and moving away from year end reviews to continuous reviews on a monthly basis, however this will be a topic for another time.
      • Career development
        Ensure there is adequate time to discuss your team member(s) career aspirations and have a note of the current vacancies with you. If they are interested in a career in another department, help them by offering to introduce them to the manager of that department so they may be able to understand the role better and see if it’s for them.
      • Share business plans and updates
        Your team member should feel comfortable that you’ve got a business plan, and it’s very important that they understand exactly where they fit in and how they can contribute.

        Constructive feedback

        If you have some constructive feedback to share with your team member(s), remember the sandwich approach: positive feedback, areas for improvement and end on a positive note.

        It’s important to remember that your team member wants to know what they are doing well, and where they can improve.

        Finally, always make time to get to know your team members, the importance of this can’t be underestimated! Make the time to ask about their interests outside of work, their family, how life is treating them in general. This helps build on your relationship and common interests.