One-on-one meetings help managers to understand what drives their direct reports and how they want to grow professionally.
When held consistently, such meetings help build trust and allow teams to benefit from shared context. This boosts employee engagement as well as productivity.
Experts recommend that managers hold these meetings every week or at least every two weeks depending on the size of teams, their schedules and so on.Every quarter, however, it is a good idea to hold a longer, more in-depth meeting with your direct reports that focuses on supporting their personal and professional development. This playbook is intended to be a guide for that meeting.
Prepare for quarterly one-on-one meetings that are engaging, valuable, and help you get a deeper understanding of each team member’s unique strengths and skill sets, what motivates them and what demotivates them.
MuchSkills’ perspective on employee engagement is guided by the findings of global analytics company Gallup that has 80+ years of data collection experience as well as 35 million global respondents in its employee engagement database, making it a global leader in the employee engagement movement.
According to Gallup, engaged employees are those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to work and their workplace. Engaged employees are invested in their workplace, want it to succeed and will even go the extra mile for it. Disengaged employees, on the other hand, do the bare minimum it takes to get by.
Only 10% of employed Western Europeans are engaged at work while 33% of US employees are engaged, according to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report.
The greater the employee engagement, the better the business outcomes. Business units in the top quartile of Gallup’s global employee engagement database, for instance, are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile.
Gallup’s research has consistently found that organizations that enable employees to do what they do best, will increase employee engagement, productivity, and profitability. On the other hand, when employees find their skills or interests do not match their roles, they struggle to succeed and stay motivated.
60% of employees say the ability to do what they do best in a role is ‘very important’ to them. This was ranked higher than ‘significant increase in income’ and stability and job security.
Prepare for quarterly one-on-one meetings that are engaging, valuable, and help you get a deeper understanding of each team member’s unique strengths, what motivates them and what demotivates them.
Employees who got little to no one-on-one time with their manager are more likely to be disengaged.
Fellow.app has a pretty good definition of a one-on-one meeting:
“A one-on-one (a.k.a. 1-on-1) is a dedicated space in your calendar for you to connect with each person reporting to you and stay in the loop about priorities, team issues, and potential roadblocks. Most importantly, it’s an anticipated moment where employees can ask in-depth questions, receive coaching on their strengths and weaknesses, and provide feedback – three things they wouldn’t be able to do in a public space or at a team meeting.”
To this, we’d like to add that it is recommended that one-on-one meetings are held every week or every two weeks for efficient performance management. But every quarter, one of these meetings should be more in-depth and focus on supporting an employee’s personal and professional growth. This will go a long way to increase employee engagement and productivity.
This is a common question. Let’s talk about the similarities first. Both one-on-one meetings and check-ins are forms of continuous performance management, which several global companies are adopting while phasing out annual performance appraisals that have been accused of focusing on the past rather than the future.One-on-one meetings can be confused with check-ins because they seem similar. After all, both are scheduled meetings between manager and direct report for the purpose of feedback. There is, however, a crucial difference.
It gives them the opportunity to talk to their managers about their ideas, problems and their career trajectory. It is aimed at helping build trust between the manager and the direct report in order to improve employee engagement and productivity.
It’s a quick weekly meeting where the manager or team leader checks in with team members about progress made on a given task or project – a kind of a status report on how things are going. It’s less about the worker and more about the work.
To ensure that the quarterly one-on-one meeting is valuable for both manager and employee, at least a week before the meeting is scheduled, managers must:
We have created a questionnaire that managers can send team members to help them with the self-reflection exercise. Make sure you review it and adjust it to your specific situation.
Do remember that:
Here is a suggestion about what you can say in your email to the employee before the one-one-one session with them:
I look forward to our quarterly one-on-one meeting about you and your professional development. Before we meet, I’d like to ask you to reflect on your journey and growth so far. Here are some suggestions about the steps you can take to prepare for the meeting so that you can gain the maximum benefit from this interaction.
Step 1 - Ensure your skills profile is updated
Log in to www.muchskills.com and create or update your personal profile. Make sure that your Job Focus shows what you feel you are good at, what gives you energy, and that you have adjusted the size of the circles by tapping on them to indicate what is higher in priority. Once you are done, change the date to six months forward and outline how you want your future to look like. What skills do you want to develop and grow, how do you want your job focus to look? We will review these goals in the second quarterly meeting.
Step 2 - Self reflect on your personal and professional growth so far
I have attached a document with questions that will help you to self-reflect. Only answer questions you feel are relevant to you and your situation.
You can share this reflection with me if you want to, but it is not necessary. The main purpose of the questionnaire is to help you reflect on your personal and professional growth with us. You can use notes from this exercise to guide you during our one-on-one.
Step 3 - Send me your MuchSkills profile (and reflections if you want to).
When you update your MuchSkills profile, please let me know so that I can have a look. If you plan on sharing your reflections with me, please send it across at least five days before we are scheduled to meet so that I have enough time to read it. Thank you. I look forward to meeting you for this one-on-one session.
Remember, this meeting is all about the employee and how that person can develop professionally. Avoid doing most of the talking and ensure that you direct any digressions back to the main subject: the employee. Your aim is to understand the employee’s strengths and the direction they hope to grow in so that you can enable them to experience personal and professional growth in the coming period.
As Ben Horowitz, former CEO of Opsware and co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, argues:
“The key to a good one-on-one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting. This is the free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.”
To be able to understand and identify the growth opportunities, you need to be an active listener where the employee does most of the talking and where you ask open questions. The meeting is about the employee to self-discover and self-reflect as well as a way for you to get to know your direct report better.
Ask your direct report:
Open and close the meeting with positive remarks. Perhaps when you start, you can acknowledge the employee for something they have done well. Before wrapping up the meeting, don't forget to reaffirm the value they bring to the organisation. Of course, don’t say anything you don’t mean. Your interactions must be honest and respectful.
During your one-to-ones, you will learn valuable information about your team members that will help you to build a stronger and better team. Make sure you create a plan for each employee and that you follow up by activating the plan, enabling the employee to grow.
Once you have met all your team members this way, you can send them a follow-up email. Here is a suggestion about what it could say:
Thank you for your time on our one-on-one. I really appreciate getting to know you more. If you have any feedback on how I can improve these interactions further, I would appreciate it if you would let me know by sending me an email or booking a meeting with me.
During our meeting, we discussed your professional growth. Below is a summary of the key points we agreed upon:
If I have forgotten anything do let me know. I look forward to helping you work on your strengths and what energizes you at work.
Here are things you should not do before, after and during the quarterly one-on-one meeting:
To get a deeper understanding of what employee engagement is really about, managers may also find it worthwhile to reflect on Gallup’s Q12. These are the 12 core questions Gallup developed to measure the most important elements of employee engagement in organizations. Gallup picked these specific questions after decades of writing, testing and refining hundreds of questions because they helped measure employee engagement most effectively.
One way managers can use these questions is to ask themselves: ‘If members of my team took this survey today how would they fare?’
The questions have been divided into four types — or levels — of employees’ performance development needs:
When managers hold regular weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings along with in-depth quarterly meetings, they will gain insights about the whole gamut of needs in the engagement hierarchy illustrated above – from individual needs to teamwork needs – which will help them build stronger and more engaged teams.