“Oh, no, my next one-on-one meeting is coming up! I really don’t know what to talk about with my manager. I wish I didn’t have to do these.”
– disempowered employee
Are you unclear about the purpose of one-on-one meetings? Do your one-on-ones lack substance, depth or focus? This is true for many people.
Today we discuss one-on-one meetings and how employees can make the most of them. We’ll address this topic from the manager’s perspective in a subsequent article. Whether you’re an employee or manager, we’ll show you how to take advantage of one-on-ones as a valuable opportunity to reflect on your professional growth, get and incorporate feedback, and improve your listening and empathy skills.
Many people think of one-on-one meetings with their managers as time to check in on tasks and projects, answering questions like, “What’s working? What’s in the way? What’s needed to stay on track and succeed?”
One-on-ones go much further. One-on-ones put people and their growth at the center, instead of tasks. They create space for employees to raise topics that are important to them, but may not be appropriate for other settings. For example:
The two-way conversation builds trust and strengthens the relationship between employee and manager. The ultimate goal for one-on-one meetings is to help the employee be more successful in the organization. The infographic below provides a quick overview of the key differences between a Touchbase and One-on-One.
Since one-on-one meetings put the person at the center, you, the employee, have full responsibility to drive the success of the meeting. Here are some ways to make the most of your one-on-ones:
Use the following questions to think about different aspects of your work experience. Jot down your ideas and use them to identify what stands out for you:
What do you want to get out of this conversation? What type of feedback are you seeking? Do you need any support? Every one-on-one conversation might have a different focus, so it’s helpful to identify what’s most relevant and define desired outcomes in advance. Here are some examples for you to use:
After going through the first two steps, you may feel energized and ready to jump into the discussion. Don’t forget that your manager might not know all the details you’ve already thought through. Provide background information to help your manager get a sense of the full picture and then advance the conversation.
If you want to start with project updates, keep them brief, so you can center the meeting around your learning and development. Work with your manager to create a safe space to discuss difficult topics. If this is not possible for whatever reason, find someone else – a colleague, coach, mentor or friend – who you can work with to address workplace challenges.
If you don’t have time to take notes during your one-on-one, spend a few minutes afterward to organize your thoughts. Record what you learned, what you decided and what you are planning to do. Share your notes with your manager so you are both accountable. You can use the notes to track your progress and plan for the next conversation.
How do you prepare for your one-on-one meetings with your manager? How do you make the most of your time together? Share your practices below.