Managers: The One-on-One is not your meeting

AJ Zane

Software Engineering Manager at Measurabl


Let's delete a common misconception

The One-on-One meeting is not a platform for managers to set their agenda. As a manager, you have the flexibility to schedule sessions with your team members whenever you want. One-on-One meetings provide a vital opportunity for your team members to communicate topics that need your insight and guidance.

Rather than treating these meetings as routine check-ins, invite your team members to come prepared with their own agenda. This could be a written list, or mental notes of what they'd like to discuss or areas where they require your input. If they show up without an agenda, don't worry. Now you have a chance to dive into the matters that concern this individual specifically.

Keep Tabs on Goals

Be prepared to discuss their personal goals and past action items. This shows your commitment to their continued growth and highlights the importance of consistent progress. For example, if an employee is working on their presentation skills, you can check in by asking, "Are you finding enough time during the day to keep up momentum on the presentation? Do you want to practice with me?"

Foster Honest Dialogue

Create an environment that invites candid feedback. Questions like, "What is the most challenging aspect of the current project for the team?" or "Do you feel your skills are being fully utilized?" can spark discussions that might be suppressed in group settings.

Encouraging Deep Understanding

Promote a deeper understanding of their work by having your team members guide you through their projects. This exercise not only reinforces their grasp of the task at hand but also allows you to spot any blind spots or misconceptions. For instance, ask them to explain their project strategy or discuss the reasoning behind specific decisions. This encourages forward-thinking and prepares them to make confident decisions even when you aren't present.

Identify Growth Opportunities

Remember, as a manager, your role extends beyond overseeing operations - you're also a mentor and coach. Keep an eye out during day-to-day operations for areas where your team members may need support or guidance. You should bring up observed instances during your meeting, for example, "I noticed you seemed uncertain during the team meeting when discussing X. How can we build your confidence here?"

Conclusion: Ceeding Control

Approaching one-on-one meetings as collaborative sessions rather than unilateral info-dump shifts the dynamics of the manager-report relationship. The goal isn't to control the conversation but to facilitate an open dialogue that fosters personal growth, encourages honest communication, and ultimately leads to a more productive and motivated team. Remember, as a manager, your role isn't just to lead – it's also to listen, guide, and support. That's what makes one-on-ones necessary.

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AJ Zane

Software Engineering Manager at Measurabl

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