1:1 meetings are the backbone of any great manager-direct report relationship. When done well, they set the tone for your dynamic with your employees, provide actionable direction, and drive deeper engagement between your reports and your organization. At their worst, they’re a complete waste of time.
What do the most productive 1:1 meetings look like, and how do perfectly well-meaning managers often drop the ball? We’ll break down the myths and misconceptions surrounding 1:1s and talk about how to do them better.
The Foundation for 1:1s
There are a thousand ways to conduct individual meetings with your employees. At face value, all of these interactions are technically 1:1s, but that doesn’t mean you should treat them all the same way.
Most highly-effective managers agree that structured 1:1 meetings should be scheduled regularly. By putting an appointment on your reports’ calendars, you send the message that you care about their progress and what they have to say. Not to mention, this has the added benefit of decreasing spontaneous interruptions to your work.
But there’s another general category of 1:1s that’s no less important. In-the-moment coaching is a critical component of performance management, particularly in the modern contact center. These impromptu touch-bases provide important opportunities to micro-coach your team at the point of impact, when and where it matters most. Knowing when to turn to micro-coaching is a skill every manager should always be fine-tuning.
How to Conduct a Scheduled 1:1
The pre-scheduled 1:1 meeting is a huge opportunity to motivate and coach your team. Unfortunately, that opportunity is inadvertently squandered by too many organizations. We’ve all had the misfortune of slogging through endless half-hour “catch-ups” with our bosses seemingly without any clear purpose, results, and therefore point. Don’t be that manager.
If you schedule individual meetings with your employees, make that time count. Whether these 1:1s happen weekly, bi-weekly, or even quarterly, every single one should include the following pillars for success:
Agenda: A meeting without an agenda is like a ship without a sail. Providing your employees with discussion points ahead of time and, ideally, asking them to contribute to the list helps turn your meetings into productive collaborations. 1:1s should never feel one-sided.
Feedback and Praise: If your employees feel like you only use 1:1s to criticize their work, they’ll never participate fully. Whether or not you have any constructive criticism to provide, it’s imperative to also offer some authentic kudos. Remember that from an employee’s perspective, a lack of praise feels a lot like disapproval.
Action Items: 1:1s are more than just a time to catch up (although there is value in knowing how your employee’s life is going outside of work). Your report–and often you–should walk away from every 1:1 with an actionable to-do list, and follow up is key! What good are action items if no one knows they’ve been completed?
Things to Consider
No two managers run exactly the same type of 1:1 meetings. There’s really no one-size-fits-all template for the kind of interactions that will be most productive for you and your team. It often takes a lot of trial and error before landing on the format that works best.
When thinking through both your scheduled 1:1s and micro-coaching sessions, consider the following questions to guide your discussion:
- What’s my specific purpose for this meeting?
- Where and how should I conduct this meeting, logistically?
- Is this something best discussed in-the-moment?
- What is the right cadence for this particular meeting?
- What form of feedback does this employee respond to best?
- Which action items do I want my employee to leave this meeting with?
- Are there examples or data I can use to support my ask?
- Is there a natural opportunity for me to provide praise in this instance?
Just remember the 1:1s you have with one employee may look totally different than those you have with another. It’s your job to identify what makes each of your reports feel most empowered, most listened to, and most useful.
Stella Connects 1:1s
If individual meetings aren’t a key component of your managerial strategy, they should be. 1:1s, whether spur of the moment or regularly scheduled, are one of the best tools you have at your disposal for motivating and improving your team.
We built Stella Connect’s 1:1 tool to make your meetings more productive. From taking notes to creating action items, our tool is designed to facilitate engagement and drive results.
Want to see Stella Connect 1:1s in action? Request a demo to learn how your contact center can leverage 1:1 meetings to improve agent motivation and performance.