How to hold regular 1-on-1 meetings with subordinates

Many managers do not meet with their 1-on-1 employees on a regular basis. Today I would like to talk about why it is worth doing and how to conduct such meetings properly.

Why meet 1-on-1 regularly

Once at an interview you decided to hire a person. The employee, for his/her part, also decided to join your team. Your expectations from each other as a whole coincided.

But over time, the situation is changing. The employee did not fulfill the task and you mentally put him a “minus” in karma. The employee, on the other hand, decided that he did something else, in his opinion, more important, and mentally gave himself a small medal.

Or another situation: the employee did something good, but you did not thank him. The man decided that no one needs him/her, but you just wound up and forgot.

The more you do not communicate, the more the pictures of the world will differ. And one day this is very likely to lead to an unexpected conflict that could have been easily avoided. Maybe you will give such feedback that will be especially offensive keeping in mind lack of any claims earlier. Maybe an employee unexpectedly slams the door for you and leaves for competitors.

Anyway, you really manage the situation only if you regularly monitor what is happening in the soul of each of your employees.

General principles

It’s worth meeting once every 1-2 weeks. More often it makes no sense, and less often – you can miss something important.

At the meeting you need to be focused on the person and not be distracted. If you try to solve some problems in parallel, the person may not open up or decide not to say something that he/she would like to share.

Welcome and first questions

Start the meeting with a friendly and simple “Hello! How are you?”. You can offer to spend a couple of minutes to take a cup of coffee or tea. The atmosphere should be friendly and relaxed, so the beginning should contribute to it as much as possible.

Next, you need to give the floor to the employee “What would you like to discuss?”. It’s important not to start with your own topics, as if a person has something that hurts and thinks only about it, he/she might not hear you.

At first, people can dump a pile of unnecessary information on you – this is normal. Guide them so that you discuss only topics that make sense and you have influence on. Gradually, a person will learn how to filter.

Agreements

Remember the agreements from the last meeting. Start with yourself. What did you agree on? What have you done since your last meeting? What happened? What didn’t work out and why, what will you do with it?

This way you set the outline for the discussion and the person will respond to you in the same style. When you’ve done, ask what he/she did?

It is very important to keep the promises made at these meetings so that the employee understands that the meetings are working and that something is constantly changing for the better. In addition, it will give you the right to expect reciprocity.

General impression

Ask what a person likes at work? What could be improved? What does he/she think of the changes that have occurred since the last meeting?

This will give you a general feeling of employee’s satisfaction, plus you can always adjust something that caused the employee’s emotions – support positive outbursts, neutralize the negative feelings from bad news.

Once every couple of months, you can ask if the employee is interested in what he/she does, what he/she would like to do in the future in six months, in a year?

Feedback

In the feedback, you should adhere to the sandwich rule: first give positive feedback, then negative (in the wording “what can be improved”), then again positive. “You did a great job last week. I would like you to work on your communication with customers, but in general you are on the right track!”.

Detailed negative feedback should be given as follows.

First, ask the employee what, in his/her opinion, he/she could improve? Only then share your observations and why something seems wrong to you. It is best to use facts and data rather than subjective opinion. Explain what you would like to have. Ask how, in his/her opinion, this could be achieved?

When discussing problems, you need to concentrate on solving the problem itself in the future, and not on who is to blame and why in the past. For example, an employee was late for this meeting. You should not attack a person, but ask, “How would we make sure that we meet again on time always?” This will allow the employee to concentrate not on excuses and psychological defense, but on the reasons for being late and on how to eliminate them in the future.

Your attitude should be “How can I help you so that it would happen / never happen again?”

Make small talks

Before proceeding to the end of the conversation, talk with the person on any free topics about life. Ask questions about the family, a hobby, how a person spent the weekend, or what plans for the future. This will slightly relax the employee and allow you to smoothly move to the final part of the conversation.

Secure the agreements

Remember and repeat everything that you discussed and agreed on. These agreements should be fixed in the format: who, what and when. Ask to e-mail these arrangements.

Remember!

  1. You need to meet once every 1-2 weeks
  2. Do not get distracted
  3. Start with general questions
  4. Remember the agreements
  5. Discuss the general impression
  6. Give feedback, remember sandwich rule
  7. Make small talks
  8. Secure the agreements

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