One-to-one meeting: an opportunity not to be missed

Some call them recurring, some one-to-one. They are usually held once a week, preferably at the same time each time. And they are a unique opportunity not only to take stock of activities with the team but also to give and receive feedback.

Too bad that between crowded agendas and broken digital communications – with bosses and subordinates who converse in real-time via company chat – it often happens that meetings are skipped or are hasty and not very organized, with the consequent loss of a great opportunity.

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As also claimed by Elizabeth Grace Saunders – author of “How to Invest Your Time Like Money” and founder of an important managerial coaching company – the one-to-one meetings are one of the most  important productivity tools available to the leader, useful for knowing the progress of projects, for feeling the atmosphere in the team, for becoming aware in advance of critical issues in the embryonic phase. And for the employees? One-to-one meetings are a testimony of care and attention from the leader, an indispensable basis for a relationship of trust.

How to organize them to make the most of them? Here are some tips for effective and productive one-to-one meetings.

  1. A fixed appointment

One-to-one meetings must be scheduled recurrently, with a defined frequency. How often? You decide on the basis of the concentration of activities and the number of the team. But do it: because a recurring appointment reassures the employee and discourages him from constantly interrupting you with small questions, encouraging him to concentrate them all together during your meeting. Once the meeting is set, do not fall into the trap of “rescheduling” or arriving late: stick to your commitment, or you will generate frustration in the interlocutor.

  1. Share the agenda

Not too constrained, not too improvised: the best one-to-one ones are those that follow a defined flow of content but reel them in a flexible way times and in order. Arrive at the meeting with a bulleted list of  hot topics and ask your colleague to do the same. Cross the lists now and decide on priorities. If necessary, leave the less pressing matters for the next round.

  1. Turn off the phones

One-to-one meetings are an opportunity to communicate to the employee that you are really interested in his business and that you want to listen actively. To connect to him, disconnect from everything else. Via your mobile phones, turn down the PC ringtone and be present and lucid.

  1. You start with positive reinforcement

To immediately connect and create a good feeling, start the meeting face to face with a compliment. Did the employee make a good company presentation or did they make a great deal with a partner? This is the time to point it out.

  1. Solve problems

One-to-one meetings are mainly used to sit at the table with the employee and listen to the difficulties  that he is encountering in a project, finding a way out together. In order not to make the one-to-one a river full of complaints, however, ask the resource to arrive already prepared with problems to be solved and possible solutions: during the meeting, you will have time to analyze the possible ways, in a more constructive way.

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  1. Thank you

Close positively, as you started: do not assume the employee’s dedication and do not underestimate their commitment. Thank him and sincerely communicate your appreciation for his efforts.

Useful for keeping up to date with the team on practical issues and to demonstrate participation and interest, one-to-one can also be an opportunity to talk about the employee’s career development. Be careful, however, not to do it treacherously: these topics are delicate and crucial for the resource and require preparation. Tell the person your intentions – “during Wednesday’s recurring I would like to talk about your career path and share your goals for the year” – and give him time to organize his thoughts.

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