1:1 meetings – they’re not just a checkbox on your managerial to-do list. Far from the once-a-year performance reviews, these sessions are a crucial opportunity to build connections, manage expectations, and foster employee growth. In this blog, we’re exploring five practical ways to make the most out of your 1:1s, turning them into a powerful tool for support, talent retention, and guiding employees to reach their full potential.
1. Set a Regular and Ongoing Time
When it comes to 1:1s, consistency is key. Start by setting the tone early on – communicate the importance of these sessions from the beginning of employment and let your team know that these meetings are not just a formality, but a dedicated time for mutual support and communication.
Make them often, but not too often to become meaningless. Agree on a weekly, biweekly or monthly time that works for both of you. Schedule these recurring meetings to avoid the hassle of constant rescheduling and ensure they’re a steady part of both your calendars. The goal is to create an expectation of regular check-ins, fostering an environment where open communication is the norm.
Regular check-ins provide the flexibility needed to correct course when challenges arise instead of waiting for them to come up in an exit interview. It’s about being proactive in providing support and resources when it matters most!
2. Align on Goals:
Goals are the roadmap to success. Rather than running through a random checklist of task completion, 1:1s should be used as a space that’s built to talk about employees’ path towards development. Focus this time on aligning individual and organizational goals. Discuss specific and critical goals with your employees, while also emphasizing career growth and development.
Use this time to identify and break down any barriers hindering progress and encourage employees to share their perspectives on what obstacles they might be facing. This collaborative approach transforms the 1:1 into a platform for discussing professional development, not just a status update. By aligning on goals, you’re creating an environment where everyone is moving in the same direction.
3. Let Employees Lead the Agenda:
Everyone’s heard of active listening – the act of being entirely engaged, with the intent to understand a person fully, rather than listening to respond. Leaders need to practice their duty of active listening during their 1:1s and let employees address what’s truly important to them. Active listening helps you build trust while encouraging employees to take the lead. When employees lead the conversation, it ensures their concerns are heard, and you get insights into what’s top of mind for them.
If your employees need a little nudge and encouragement in leading the conversation, ask open-ended questions like “How can I support you in reaching your goals?” and “Last week you mentioned X – how is that going this week?” This approach will encourage a dynamic discussions where both parties contribute, nurturing engagement and collaboration. It’s not just about receiving the updates; it’s about creating an atmosphere where employees feel empowered to drive their own professional development conversations.
4. Share and Receive Effective Feedback
When you think of 1:1s, most people typically think about employee feedback only. Make it clear from the beginning that 1:1 time is also open for company and manager feedback. Feedback is a two-way street and should be used as a tool for growth on both sides of the spectrum. Regularly sharing feedback, not just during quarterly or annual reviews, is crucial for addressing concerns as they arise. This approach creates a culture where issues, big or small, are resolved more effectively.
Give employees a voice and leverage 1:1s as a platform for continuous improvement on both sides. This is how you build a workplace where feedback is valued, and everyone is invested in the success of the team.
5. Build Rapport:
Relationships are at the core of any successful team. Use your 1:1 time to build genuine rapport and really get to know the individual you put your trust in everyday to drive company success. Encourage open discussions, make space for personal issues, and share relatable experiences. It’s important to be approachable both inside and outside of the 1:1, promoting stronger connection and a deeper level of trust.
Especially for remote or hybrid employees, consider stepping out of the office or virtual space. A casual coffee chat can go a long way in building a more resilient team. Remember, building rapport is an ongoing process. Use 1:1s as an opportunity not just to discuss work-related matters but also to check in on personal well-being, creating a work environment that truly values the whole person.
Your 1:1s shouldn’t be complicated; they should be straightforward tools for success. Set a regular time, align on goals, let employees take the lead, share effective feedback, and build rapport. These practical strategies will help reinvent your routine check-ins into a powerhouse for employee engagement and growth. Make your 1:1s count and witness the positive impact on your team’s success. After all, being a leader employees don’t want to walk away from starts with mastering the basics of effective 1:1s.
About BrightMatter HR
BrightMatter HR is a Toronto-based Human Resources Outsourcing (HRO) provider that brings years of experience to delivering results-oriented, flexible HR solutions and employee management services. BrightMatter provides a personalized touch to HR outsourcing while focusing on modernizing your workforce, reducing your costs, and bringing peace of mind to employers and their growing teams.