Who laughed and said, ‘what 1:1 meetings?! Wishful thinking..’ I bet there were a few of you and that there were many more who, as a result of that thought, aren’t reading now. Regardless, when it comes to the world of change and growth, we know that humans won't change unless:
the pain from not changing gets too great to handle, or
the opportunity from change is overwhelmingly attractive.
I have written previously about engaging for depth and communicating with impact, but those things are only possible if (a) we have established relationships and (b) there are forums to do so. 1:1 meetings (aka one-on-one meetings or 121 meetings) do both of those things.
Why don’t we do 1:1 meetings?
1. "I don’t have the time"
Done right, 1:1s pay back in time. Always. So make the time.
2. "They're a bit useless as we always run out of time to achieve anything"
The reason you run out of time is that you don’t plan. Influence the structure of the meeting. A flexible agenda is useful.
3. "My manager (or I) always cancels them"
This may happen for a large number of reasons. Don’t cancel, reschedule. Even if you have to reduce the length - continue the rhythm. If there are time critical matters to discuss, make that clear.
4."We talk all the time anyway"
Having a variety of communication channels is the most effective way to make sure you’re getting the information you need and delivering the message you want with the right level of impact. Be strategic with how you communicate.
How to do 1:1s right
I believe there are 3 general topics that should be covered in varying degrees during 1:1 meetings. These are:
How much time you spend on each will depend on your specific needs in that period. However, there are some general principles that you should follow:
Task related conversations, and ‘updates’ should be kept to a minimum
You should consider whether precious face to face time is the best use of either of your times. Escalation of resolution of complex tasks, however, is the exception.
Succinctly articulate the value in having the strategic conversation now (and not later)
Because a lot of us are only concerned with resolving immediate issues and challenges, meeting current objectives, it may be tempting to brush off a strategic conversation. However, talking strategy - when done right - allows you plan and approach current issues more effectively. Understanding the broader context enables you to spend the effort on the stuff that matters. Said another way, how many activities have you completed in the past that have proven to be a waste of time because something broader changed?
Always take the temperature
Every year in September we have RUOK day. It’s such an important day, advocating for an important cause, but do you ever think, ‘gosh, we should be asking this every day’. We need to allow time and space for this conversation, because we know that high performers make a habit of bottling up our tension and trying to compartmentalise. This is only possible for a finite period of time, and very quickly this stress can cause increased risk, reduced quality and possibly, worse.
Your 1:1s are only as good as your prep
You will only get out as much as you put in, so set yourself up for success.
1:1s need to be regular, but not necessarily frequent.
Step 1: figure out who you should be having 1:1s with
Step 2: assess how frequent they need to be (note: it will be different for everyone)
Step 3: initiate a conversation with each person setting the expectation that you will commence scheduling 1:1s and why
Step 4: schedule a recurring meeting in your calendars. It’s easier to move time than find time, so get the ‘block’ of time in now - it can always be moved later.
Step 5: prepare for your first 1:1.
Effective 1:1 meetings deliver impact and fast. It's worth getting them right.
Would love to hear your other tips for successful 1:1 meetings.....
PS - don’t forget you can listen to this instead! Click here.