One-on-one meetings are a vastly underrated management technique… well done one-on-one meetings, that is. I find them useful particularly when the group I’m managing is a group, not a tight-knit team, but I’ve used them when I was managing project teams, too.

In a 1:1 meeting you can uncover progress and obstacles, help people make course corrections, coach and give feedback.

As a manager, I heard about problems and obstacles in 1:1 meetings that I never would have heard about in group status meetings When you know about obstacles, you can work on removing them. And that’s part of your job.

1:1 meetings are a place to discuss salary and promotions issues and professional development goals

When you meeting weekly or bi-weekly with the people who report to you, year end evaluations aren’t a big overwhelming deal. You’ve got an on-going record of accomplishments, issues, and coaching discussions. Neither you nor the employee is in for nasty surprises.

If you are working with a small tight-knit team, or an agile team, you may want to use daily standup meetings to cover most project related daily planning, status and obstacles. But you’ll still need to meet with folks periodically to find out what’s going on with goals, coaching, and so forth.

I would advise, however, that you not follow the example of my old boss; keep the time for the folks who report to you. Going through the inbox, reading email, taking calls — these all send a signal to the other person that you’re not really listening, and that the person who reports to you isn’t worth your undivided attention even for 20-30 minutes a week. That’s a sorry message for a manager to send.

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