4 steps to managing 1:1’s
June 22, 2022

4 steps to managing 1:1’s

The 1:1 is important and there are certain criteria that shape a successful meeting. What are these?

What you’ll learn:

  • The criteria you need to think about when managing a 1:1 meeting
  • How to listen and not take up too much airtime 

A recent study by Gallup found that when managers provide weekly (vs. annual) feedback, team members are:

  • More than 5 times more likely to strongly agree that they receive meaningful feedback
  • More than 3 times more likely to strongly agree they are motivated to do outstanding work
  • Almost 3 times more likely to be engaged at work 

Having regular 1:1 meetings is proven to create a more engaged and motivated team. An important quote from the Gallup study reinforces this: 

‘The best managers in the world are architects of effective coaching conversations. They create moments where genuine dialogue can occur, where employees feel their opinions matter and like they are cared about in a unique way.1

This is a great summary of the ideal dynamics of an effective and useful 1:1. Here’s some more tips on how to ensure you create a productive meeting for you and your employee: 

1. Don’t cancel 

It’s easy to think that client calls and meetings should be prioritized over internal meetings but it’s important that you don’t cancel as it can make the employee feel demotivated and like they’re not a priority. 

It’s also likely that the employee has psyched themselves up before the meeting and they will feel deflated when it doesn’t go ahead (and they may feel less able to voice their experiences at a later date). 

2. Encourage an atmosphere of ‘radical candor’ 

Think about what you want to achieve with the meeting. You want the employee to feel motivated, clear on their objectives and positive about what they’re going to do in the coming week. 

‘Radical candor’ is a framework for giving and receiving feedback that is rooted in caring personally about your colleagues while challenging them directly (check out the book: ‘Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean,’ by Kim Scott for more on this technique). If you train your staff in this methodology then everyone will feel familiar and comfortable being honest and open in their feedback. 

3. Employ active listening 

It’s also important that you listen to what your employee is saying and use ‘active listening.’ 

So listen with your full attention, check that you’ve understood correctly,  repeat back, respond and reflect on what's being said, and retain the information for later. 

Remember that you need to ensure that your employee feels seen and if they need to vent then that’s normal too. It may be that they’ve stored up challenges for the meeting and need to get them out of their system. 

Create a collaborative atmosphere by reassuring them that you’ve taken their feedback on board, what the action steps will be after the meeting and also agree a timeline for when this will be completed by or follow up with an email detailing this i.e. sourcing training or talking to another team member. 

4. Agree agenda ahead of time

Sometimes an employee can feel nervous if they don't quite know what to expect from the 1:1. 

This means that before the meeting has kicked off they’re worried about what will happen (they may anticipate criticism). If you have a specific issue then handle this separately by having a quick catch up rather than letting one challenging issue dominate the meeting. 

Also ahead of time agree what you’re going to talk about by sending over a quick agenda. Let your employee add to the agenda so it’s truly collaborative and don’t be didactic in your approach (i.e. maintain flexibility and ensure that your employee feels like their concerns are being taken on board). 

Always keep in mind what you want to achieve with these meetings. This may require managing your own emotions and ensuring you hang back and digest what is being said. A great manager isn’t afraid to say - ‘Let me get back to you on that once I’ve thought about it,’ if they need time to reflect on issues. It’s better to say this than to say something in the heat of the moment and regret it later. 

 1 https://www.gallup.com/workplace/249332/harm-good-truth-performance-reviews.aspx