login


Google Sign inLinkedIn Sign in

Don't have an account? 

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a First 1:1

Meetings
One-on-one
New Manager
Feedback
Internal Communication

13 November, 2018

Didier shares some key findings from his successes and failures in 1:1 meetings over his years of experience.

Problem

In the last few years, I've had the pleasure of kicking off lots of new relationships with both engineers and managers. I've learned a lot over time that getting specific data during the first 1:1 meeting can be really helpful. I've also learned from my mistakes and seen that the first 1:1 is crucial.

Actions taken

I usually keep questions/answers and message history by emails. Not the best tool for sure but it's actually enough for my peers. The emails are composed with these common categories: #1 Open discussion The goal here is to begin with the current mood but also discuss current work and team members. #2 Training and events The goal is to follow important events and training session required to pass the next level #3 Area of improvements/actions taken The goal is to get your team member to take the 1:1 slot seriously – and not consider it an interruption to otherwise more important things. Below are questions I ask during the first 1:1:

  • What do you like in your current position and company?
  • What do you dislike in your current position and company?
  • What makes you professionally happy?
  • How I can know you are in a bad mood? Really helpful when you have remote engineers
  • In what medium (Slack, email, in person, etc.) do you prefer to receive feedback?
  • What makes 1:1s the most valuable for you?
  • What are your goals for this year? And for the next 3 months?
  • What do you expect from your manager?

Lessons learned

The failure of my first 1:1s made me think a lot and I realized they were not fully efficient and productive. Here are my main takeaways:

  • 1:1s must be prepared
  • Have regularly scheduled 1:1s
  • Focus the 1:1s on the people, less on technology or project
  • Be on time for the 1:1s
  • Avoid too frequent 1:1s, every 2 weeks is the base
  • Don't talk too much as a manager/tech leader
  • Keep a 30 minutes meeting in calendar but adapt according to the situation, less or more
  • Don't miss career path (common categories can help)
  • Find a medium where your direct reports can respond
  • Don't wait for 1:1s to give critical feedback All in one: being engaged, genuine and authentic are key.

Related stories

How to Effectively Communicate on Slack
6 July

Shridharan Muthu, VP of Engineering at Zoosk, discusses effective communication using Slack including a recommended framework that entails three simple tips to make the most of the tool.

Internal Communication
Remote
Productivity
Shridharan Muthu

Shridharan Muthu

VP of Engineering, Backend Applications at Zoosk

Improving Collaboration Between Engineering and Product Across Time Zones
6 July

Shridharan Muthu, VP of Engineering at Zoosk, describes how to make communication effective between PMs and engineers when they are located in different time zones and have very little overlap.

Collaboration
Internal Communication
Reorganization
Remote
Shridharan Muthu

Shridharan Muthu

VP of Engineering, Backend Applications at Zoosk

An Acquisition Across Time Zones
6 July

Shridharan Muthu, VP of Engineering at Zoosk, speaks of the time his company was acquired by another org in a time zone half a world away, listing issues and providing solutions to how he overcame the time disparity while transferring product knowledge.

Reorganization
Internal Communication
Motivation
Remote
Shridharan Muthu

Shridharan Muthu

VP of Engineering, Backend Applications at Zoosk

Some Ideas for Breaking Down Silos In Your Organization
30 June

Jeff Foster, Head of Product Engineering, shares how he managed to break down silos in his organization by encouraging their employees to choose their own team.

Team reaction
Managing Expectations
Company Culture
Internal Communication
Collaboration
Productivity
Reorganization
Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster

Head of Product Engineering at Redgate

Prioritizing Tech Work vs. Product Work: The Incomplete Story
30 June

Jose Pettoruti, Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud, shares some tips on how to prioritize and balance tech work with ever-emerging new features by working closely with the product team.

Collaboration
Internal Communication
Jose Pettoruti

Jose Pettoruti

Director of Engineering at CurrencyCloud

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.