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Why One-On-One Conversations Are Important and How to Make Them Efficient

Goal Setting
Leadership
Meetings
Internal Communication
Performance

2 January, 2022

Chien Kuo
Chien Kuo

Sr Director of Engineering at Oscar Health

Chien Kuo, Sr Director of Engineering at Oscar Health, discusses how he had a specific plan and a framework prepared for one-on-one meetings for his direct reports.

One-On-One Meetings Are Not Just Another Meeting

While communication is the key to successful management, improving its ways becomes essential. One-on-one meetings are an effective way of communication, whereby different individuals have different expectations from such interactions. As a manager, you might have other plans for the one-on-one with your direct report in contrast to what they have in mind. There are several ways to add value and build the manager-team member relationship, rather than making it just another meeting.

Come Prepared and Set a Framework

To begin with, I provide a structure to all my direct reports on what we could cover during the one-on-one meeting. This approach allows us to quickly align on what’s expected in this meeting and team members could add on their points (if they have any) to make it as effective as possible. Not having such an agenda or a proper structure makes such meetings more like a project update.

I always begin the one-on-one meetings with my direct reports on a positive note — starting by asking them how happy they are with their work and whether they feel engaged and aligned with others. These are some of the most critical factors for a manager to know.

Moving forward, my approach is to ask them how far they have come with their annual goal, or quarterly targets, instead of updates regarding the project. That is because projects are usually team efforts, while goals are personal efforts of a person that helps them grow in their career ladder.

Speaking of the career ladder, I’d also work with each of my direct reports to identify the gaps in their career to provide support. My goal as a manager is to ensure that they are making progress in their career aside from just achieving their targets in a quarter.

Communicate by Understanding

  • Goals and targets will always be there for your team members to work towards, but also make sure that they feel engaged and encouraged to work in the team. Understand their needs and what makes them happy to get the total productivity of the group.
  • Having a framework works as a great conversation starter. This would lead to productive and essential conversations rather than getting swayed away by other topics.

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