Effective and Engaging 1:1s — A Five Step Guide

May 31, 2023

Janjira Sun

1:1 meetings with your team members are the most crucial (and underrated) tool for building relationships, setting goals, and providing feedback as a manager. However, all too often these meetings tend to feel like a waste of time for both parties involved — from having too many things on our plates to not being present in meetings, we all deserve better!!! In this article, I’ll go over how to have consistently effective and engaging 1:1s with some key strategies you should keep in mind. ✨

Set the tone ✍️

Before each 1:1 (at least a day in advance), collaborate on a shared agenda with your direct report. This gives both parties an opportunity to share any questions or topics they want to discuss, and you’re able to see if there’s any overlap. Preparing the agenda in advance ensures that you’ll stay focused, and that you’ll be using your 1:1 efficiently.

One of my favorite collaborative agenda tools is Small Improvements.

Give actionable feedback 💭

Outside of giving feedback asynchronously, a 1:1 is the perfect time to give and receive feedback. Effective feedback needs should be specific, actionable, and delivered in a nonviolent, constructive way. Focus on giving feedback about the work, not the person, and provide examples of what you’d like to see more (or less) of.

Be open to receiving feedback, too ⚙️

As often as you’re giving feedback, you should be receptive to receiving feedback about how you show up for your peers. Be open to receiving feedback from them and give yourself the space to improve, too. ⭐

Check in, follow up, and reach out 🫂

Make it a habit to reach out with your direct report after your 1:1 to ensure they’re making progress on their goals and help address the challenges they face on the way. Show them that you’re invested in their success (and mean it) to build trust and accountability.

Make it a habit ✅

To consistently have effective and engaging 1:1s, you need to build the habit. Schedule them regularly, commit to them, and prioritize them by incorporating them into your workflow. Your team member’s input, growth, and development are valuable, and their time should be treated as such.

✦ ✦ ✦

Effective and engaging 1:1s are kind of like rocket science — everyone knows what needs to happen in order to have a great one, but they just can’t seem to get them right.The best 1:1s are the ones that are rooted in intentionalism, mindfulness, and innate humanness. As long as you stay openly curious about your peers, you’ve nailed it. 💪

If you resonated with this article and have any tips or stories about your best 1:1 ever, leave a comment below! I’d love to hear more about how we can improve the relationship between managers and individual contributors. ❤

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