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Effective One-on-Ones

2 min
management  ✺  oneonone  ✺  meeting

One-on-Ones between an employee and their manager is by far one of the most essential mechanisms within an organization that impact engagement, growth, delivery and job satisfaction for both parties. From the late mastermind Andy Grove on the point of such meeting: "is mutual teaching and exchange of information...the supervisor is there to teach and learn...the supervisor should also encourage the discussion of heart-to-heart issues during one-on-ones, because this is the perfect forum for getting at subtle and deep work-related problems affecting his subordinate."

Here are my four tips to make the most our of your next 1:1 with your manager or your team:

1️⃣ Own the Agenda: While the meeting series may be setup from your manager's calendar, this is your meeting, so come prepared with an agenda of items you want to cover. Ideally share that agenda with your manager 24-48 hours before the meeting if possible so that they come prepared. An agenda item could be support for getting a mentor in a specific area or to adjust relative priorities of ongoing efforts. If there is truly nothing to discuss (happens occasionally), check with your manager if they have any items - otherwise cancelling that occurence may be appropriate to give you both valuable time back.

2️⃣ Leverage Offline Channels: For anything that doesn't require a discussion, leverage offline channels (e.g. email, chat messages, documents) to provide. This saves valuable time from the one-on-one for discussion. I have seen one-on-ones often turn into status update meetings - which in my mind is not optimal use of such forum.

3️⃣ Document Actions and Follow-through: Define a mechanism (e.g. shared doc) through which you will document and track action items coming out of the one-on-one. This holds you and your manager accountable to progress on what was agreed upon. Make sure you also give visibility to your manager on the same.

4️⃣ Be Open: Most important of all, be open with your manager. The one-on-one is the most private meeting that you have with your manager. Whatever concerns you have, burning questions in the back of your mind, feedback that you want to give etc. - this is the opportunity to do so. It's difficult to have a long term successful and meaningful relationship without openness and trust building.

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