Conducting effective 1:1 meetings
Never under estimate the impact of sitting down regularly with each member of staff on a one to one basis.
Whether you call them “one to one meetings”, “reviews” or simply “chats” really doesn’t matter; the important thing is that they happen.
But, why would you want to have these if you see your team members every day and give them feedback as you go?
Because they provide an opportunity for a private discussion, to raise points which you may not want others to hear, and for them to raise things they might not want everyone else to hear.
They also provide that window of time to focus on them:
- not just you telling them how they’re doing,
- but allowing them the opportunity to tell you how they think they are doing.
- and to listen to their ideas, questions, concerns and suggestions
Your aim should be:
- To motivate your team members to either continue or sustain good performance
- For team members to feel confident that they have the ability and support to fill any gaps where they need development.
- It’s an opportunity for them to have their contribution recognised – not just performance, but have their ideas heard.
- It devotes time to set direction and goals for the coming weeks.
- The net result should be an enthused and motivated employee who knows what they should be focusing on, and how this will contribute to the business.
I often hear of managers spending literally hours preparing for the meetings, then finding themselves having to work twice as hard to get the employee to contribute their ideas and views to the meeting. One to ones are as much for their benefit as yours, so ask them to take some responsibility for the preparation too.
There may be things they’ve done that are worthy of comment, which you are oblivious to; remember you don’t see them every minute of every day they are at work. So ask them to plan what they would like to discuss.
- Ask open questions to get their ideas on performance and how to move forward.
- Use the AID* model for feedback: They’ll still want your view on performance
- Ask for their views
- Offer support: If there are shortfalls you need to understand why, and then help bridge that gap.
3 core questions
As a minimum you may like to consider these 3 questions:
What successes or achievements have you had this month or what have you done this month that you’re proud of?
- What have been your top 2/3 successes?
- What have you accomplished towards this year’s goals?
- What has gone particular well for you this week/month/period?
- What have you been particularly pleased with?
- What have they achieved towards pre-determined goals, targets, KPIs, etc.
Start on a positive and is an opportunity for the employee to blow their own trumpet.
Of course if these are things you’ve spotted too this is your opportunity to give praise where it’s due, and reinforce their success.
This is a time when you might discover other strengths or successes that you’ve been previously unaware of, so take note and ask for examples if you need to.
Ensure you build on their successes and discuss how they can do more of this or emulate this in future. (See the AID model)
Compliment them, tell them why you value their contribution, focus on strengths.
What’s not gone so well?
What disappointments or frustrations?
- If you had a magic wand, what would you change or do differently?
- Where have you fallen short against this month’s goals/KPIs?
- What hasn’t gone to plan?
- What have you been disappointed with?
- What have you set out to do but it hasn’t yet happened?
Sometimes people will be very hard on themselves, and even if people have not done everything you’ve asked of them, when they are identifying this for themselves it’s a lot easier for both of you to have that conversation.
How have they gone about this? Something may have given a good result at first glance, but it’s all very well achieving all their targets but not so good if they’ve upset colleagues or customers along the way.
Look at this as an opportunity to learn, so discuss what got in the way and how to overcome this in future. This might need some more support or training from you or additional resources.
Where’s the next focus?
What do you feel needs to be your number 1 focus for the coming month?
What needs to be the focus for the coming week/month/period?
This is your opportunity to look ahead and either set some goals for the forthcoming period or to summarise any development that has been identified as result of the previous 2 questions.
- What needs to be focused on or addressed, and what support or development do they need to do this
At the end of the meeting ask if they have anything to add.
Summarise theirs and your actions, record and agree next review date.
If there needs to be more commitment or input on their part ask them to do the summarising. This way you know there is at least an understanding of what’s expected over the coming period, and an opportunity to set this straight if their interpretation is different from yours.
If you simply ask the 3 questions on a regular basis over time your team will get used to you asking these and as time goes on hopefully they’ll be more prepared for each question giving it some thought prior to your meeting.
Over time your team will get used to you asking these and as time goes on hopefully they’ll be more prepared for each question giving it some thought prior to your meeting.
Their preparation obviously doesn’t let you off the hook altogether, but if they are well prepared it will certainly reduce the amount of time needed in the meeting to achieve the same result.
In part 2 we’ll look at some tips for getting started on 1:1’s and how to get the most from them.