Gain insight without losing time during your 1:1s

Mark Chen

VP Product and Strategy at Rev.com



As managers, we use 1:1s to know what's going on with our teams. The challenge is really how to use time effectively to learn what's going on not just on an activity level, but on an emotional level as well. We need 1:1s to focus more on the question, "How are you feeling?" than "What are you doing?"

Actions taken

Achieving the balance I describe above involves combining two things:

  • Some standardized process
  • Time for flexibility (length depends on who you are talking to) I have recently developed a strategy that allows me to catch up quickly on my direct reports' activities so that we can really get into their needs and their emotional state. I ask my reports to prepare and submit an update slide well in advance of our meeting. Each slide contains 5 buckets with the following questions:
  • What is going well?
  • What isn't going well?
  • What is still in progress?
  • Where do you need a manager's help or support?
  • What is coming down the road? I can easily read through the slide in 3 minutes and know what's going on for a given report. I enter the 1:1 with a few questions regarding the slide in mind. Once we've got those out of the way, I open things up to my direct reports. I ask about their concerns; and how they are feeling about their work, their teams, and their careers. This usually leads to conversations about handling challenging employees, getting opinions about a feature or a design, or talking through their emotions regarding work.

Lessons learned

By asking my reports to create and submit this slide ahead of time, I can come prepared to address the content effectively, while dedicating the bulk of our conversation to the softer stuff. This approach has been very well received - communication is flowing much better, and I feel like I have a pulse on the emotions of my team.

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Mark Chen

VP Product and Strategy at Rev.com

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