One-On-Ones for Engaging Employees: How Good Managers Run Them
11 November, 2021
null at DoorDash
Everyone Dreads One-on-Ones
It is no surprise that 1:1 meetings get deprioritized most of the time 一 especially in the tech industry.
Every time someone looks out on their calendar and sees such a meeting, their eyes roll at the back of their head. It’s not too late to discover that 1:1s are by far one of the most essential kinds of meetings anyone can have with their managers. The biggest challenge is making the team members realize the importance of this. While some people believe informal chit-chats can replace it, passing by their desks, or discussing primarily in-between tech specifics in an ad-hoc way, no one in particular understands how it can significantly help them.
How To Make One-on-One Meetings Effective
Be Open and Honest:
While one-on-one meetings are a great way to provide various status updates and questions regarding the workloads during the week, don’t forget what would contribute to professional growth. Both the manager and the team members are looking towards evolving in their careers, and in order to do that, both parties need ample feedback.
Some employees might think that they are rockstar performers, while their manager might not think so. Constructive feedback and open communication is a vital step towards such growth. Most employees have a vested interest in decisions that could impact their development. Sometimes these conversations could be much scarier, particularly for junior engineers, but in the end, we are all working towards what’s best for the company.
Whether it’s a team member switching to another team to find another product or something more appealing, or feedback regarding their work itself, ultimately, it would allow them to show off their best work. It’s all about being able to have the kind of difficult conversations and being comfortable with having them.
Setting Actionable Goals:
No one wants these kinds of muddy goals to be established for them. Setting clear expectations and goals are worth the effort. Instead of managers saying, “I need you to show leadership,” managers could enforce, “I need you to lead this project.” On top of that, making sure that the goals are clear and actionable; for instance, they will own a feature, and a team in order to complete the project does contain a practical value.
Have the Right Mindset:
Both the manager and the team members must know that it’s an open place and feel comfortable. As people evolve in their position, mainly, the manager and IC relationship should be seen as boss-employee, and more like two employees working together. Having conversations that are flexible to accommodating topics to favour both sides are the key to making the most out of such meetings.
- Set some boundaries for one-on-one meetings instead of making excuses to run away from those. Keep your morale, productivity, and engagement in check through these meetings. When managers conduct such meetings properly and become comfortable with their team members, both parties feel valued and engaged, as a result.
- Normalize having 15- minute meetings, or even impromptu Zoom calls, when needed. It could be somewhat awkward to have short sessions but think of these as those pantry rooms or drop-by desk meetings. Such discussions are considered more productive than setting up routine appointments, where some people could appear late or simply can’t hear or see one another.
Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader
Hiring 10x engineers is hard for most companies. It’s a tough battle out there for talent. So how should most companies approach building their team?
VP Engineering - DevOps & Security at Grofers
Jord Sips, Senior Product Manager at Mews, shares his expertise on a common challenge for product managers – finding root causes and solutions.
Senior Product Manager at Mews
Jonathan Belcher, Engineering Manager at Curative, explains how to balance team cohesion and individual focus time, tapping into his experiences of working remotely for seven years.
Engineering Manager - Patient Experience at Curative
Snehal Shaha, Lead Technical Program Manager at Momentive (fka SurveyMonkey), details her short-term technical strategy to unify processes among teams following an acquisition.
Senior EPM/TPM at Apple Inc.
Weiyuan Liu describes his experience moving up from an individual contributor, tech lead, and engineering manager.
Director of Engineering at Zillearn
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.