Ah meetings, the lifeblood of any company. In particular, one-on-ones can be a great way to get the creative juices flowing, inspire collaboration, and bring coworkers closer together. On the other hand, having them just for the sake of having one-on-ones is a great way to be less productive with everyone’s time at work. Let’s talk about how to get the most out of your one-on-ones, both for you and for your employees.
To start, it’s good to have a schedule set so people can come prepared. Canceling at the last second can be an annoyance and cause someone to be less productive. Why? When employees expect to meet at a certain time, especially with someone who manages them, they’ll plan around that. When the time moves, they’ve already wasted time not starting a new task, and it may interfere with what they had scheduled for the rest of the day.
Make a habit of constantly canceling, and you’ll be sending the message that your employee or coworker isn’t worth your time. If you’re always rescheduling one-on-ones with your direct report, you’re essentially telling them you don’t consider their time or effort important — which doesn’t make anyone feel good. Productive one-on-ones can build a better relationship by showing that you value and respect your employees, as well as the effort they’re putting in day in and day out.
Once you’ve got the meeting scheduled and everyone’s attending, how do you make sure it’s a productive one?
Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money, places the emphasis on face-to-face meetings. The more digital we get in the modern office, the more we tend to communicate reports via email, internal messaging, and texts. Having actual connections and conversations with the people in your office is especially important to young professionals, who make a majority of our current job market.
Set a schedule.
When you first bring someone on, it may make sense to have a one-on-one twice a week to check in and make sure they’re transitioning into the new role efficiently. As your new employee becomes more comfortable, you can change one-on-ones to a biweekly or even monthly cadence. Just make sure to discuss this change with them — each employee is different, personality- and responsibility-wise. Finding the sweet spot for meetings is the first step to making sure they’re productive and helpful.
Prepare, prepare, prepare.
The easiest way to have an unproductive meeting is to go in with nothing to talk about. There are a few ways to go about this: One is to set aside 30 minutes of prep time during the week before the meeting to set an agenda you can send out in advance. Another is to try writing things down as they come up during the week, then take a look at them all on Friday to see what you’ll need to talk about. Odds are, you’ll find plenty to talk about. Keeping a list can help bring structure to a meeting and make sure it has a focus point.
Be there for the meeting.
Technology is everywhere, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring it into your meetings. In fact, you shouldn’t. Being completely present for one-on-ones means leaving your computer and phone at your desk and just bringing a notebook, unless there’s something you specifically need to pull up on your laptop. Giving direct reports your full attention is the least you can do, and it’s the only way you can focus on what their needs really are.
These are just a few ways you can kick your one-on-ones off on a good note. It’s important to find a healthy balance in the workplace, using your time effectively so that you don’t waste your or your employees’ productivity.
Want more tips? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post.