In this guide, we outline how to hold effective 1-on-1s that inspire your employee's career goals and professional development.
1-on-1s (also known as 1-1, one to one, or 1:1) are an effective way to show support for your employee, celebrate their successes, provide feedback, and empower people to develop professionally within their role. It’s important to plan a 1-on-1 to ensure that both you and the employee leave with a clear strategy ahead, and any issues are resolved, and achievements are celebrated.
Purpose of a 1-on-1
The main aim of a 1-on-1 is to actively develop your team through the collection of meaningful feedback. Remember, the purpose is not to provide top-down performance feedback, to assess the company’s performance, or evaluate the status of certain projects. Instead, the employee needs to take centre stage.
What are their objectives, their pain points, their feedback, and how can you support them going forward?
How to get the most out of your 1-on-1
Perhaps the most important part of any 1-on-1, and one thing that is often overlooked, is to start the meeting by asking: ‘How are you feeling?’ It’s so easy to delve straight into recent projects and workload that this is often missed off the agenda completely. Take a few minutes to get to know how the individual is feeling, especially if either you or the employee is a remote worker. Do they have anything they’re feeling worried about? Do they have something that they’re excited about? Try and have a few minutes where work chat is off the cards and take the opportunity to enjoy a chat over a coffee. If you’re a Loopin user, this is a great opportunity to review the check-in data of the individual and have a meaningful conversation about their wellbeing, if they’re comfortable doing so. Starting with an informal chat may encourage the individual to feel comfortable to open up.
Meet regularly and if possible, at the same time or on the same day every two weeks or month. This means your people will be more relaxed knowing they have a prized slot in your calendar, where they will be given your full attention. For employees who like to have structure, this will help them to feel at ease knowing what to expect and when.
Be sensitive to the needs of the individual. Each employee is different, and their ways of communicating will vary.. As a leader, your purpose is to listen, and understand. If possible, turn off laptops and phones, and dedicate your time purely to them. Demonstrate that you’re present and this 1-on-1 is as important to you as it is to them, even if it’s your fifth one of the day!
Preparation is key. Create a 1-on-1 meeting template by jotting down some questions you can ask in advance, and make a note of those that worked, i.e., those that provoked full and honest feedback during the minutes of the meeting. These questions should focus on both short and long-term goals. For example:
- Where do they want to go in their career?
- How can you help them to achieve their goals?
- What obstacles are in their way, and how can you unblock their path to success?
- What have they found difficult recently?
Showing that you care will go a long way to creating a supportive environment and will help the employee to feel appreciated.
Acknowledge that no-one is perfect. A question such as, ‘What can I, your manager, do better?’ is a great way to break down barriers, show that you’re not invincible, and help to create a safe space where people can share their concerns.
Employees can prepare too. Ask your employee to think about their 1:1 meeting in advance. What do they want to get out of it? A list of possible questions you might send them to consider could be:
- What is working for them?
- What is not?
- What do they need for the above to be improved?
- What are their short-term and long-term career objectives?
- What help do they need in achieving these?
Your role: Playing it forward
How you react and respond to the feedback you receive is very important. If you don’t know the answer to a particular question, then say so. If you say that you will get back to them once you’ve found the answer, then make sure you do. This follow-up will prove to your people that they are important to you, and this will ultimately lead to greater trust and a belief that 1-on-1s are truly worthwhile.
And finally, be sure to log the notes of the 1-on-1. This gives structure to your catch-ups going forward and provides an awareness of what was discussed during the meeting. When you hold your next 1-on-1, you can reflect on these notes so you’re equipped with exactly what to discuss and provide feedback on. You may also want to note down important parts of the employees life; their pets name, their children’s names or where they’re going on holiday. During your next catch-up, mentioning something like this to your employee truly shows that you listen and care.
If you find that your 1-on-1s are lacking structure, and you’d like more insight on your team’s wellbeing, our all-in-one people platform may be the answer. Loopin allows you to develop your leadership skills and use data-driven action recommendations to ease the pressure of new working models. Your employees can request 1-on-1s with you so they can get support when they most need it, preventing burnout or disconnection, and you can gain a true understanding of your people in real-time with daily check-in data.
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