Creating Effective 1on1 Meetings

1on1 meetings are the perfect opportunity to build a healthy relationship between management and other team staff members. When executed properly, companies can learn and grow from these routine check-ins based on feedback generated from these meetings. But, when misled or unfulfilled, these opportunities can turn into disaster areas. Team Members  can develop feelings of resentment or neglect, which can result in poor performance later on down the road. To avoid this, let’s talk about a few ways to keep 1on1s effective, efficient, transparent, and fun. Let’s get started.

The Foundation and Framework

Setting the foundation for an effective 1on1 meeting is a multi-facet process. When two people meet as colleagues, or a superior with a subordinate, there has to be an initial tone set that helps each involved party determine the nature of the meeting, and how this can benefit each other in the work space. 

4 minimum requirements for 1on1s 

  • Date 

  • Time 

  • Location 

  • And most importantly, an agenda. 

While the first three items are a given, a predetermined agenda is a pretty major driving force in executing an effective meeting. It establishes expectations, creates goals, and can serve as a reassurance for all parties involved that their time will not be wasted during this session. This can come in the form of a sticky note, a shared electronic document, or physical handwritten notes provided by both parties. 

Transparency and Candor 

We are fortunate to operate and live in an age where “corporate,” or company culture in general, is rapidly being dismantled and reassembled to remove many of the toxic aspects that hold back most companies from growing internally. This paves the way for employees to feel that they can be transparent, honest, and forthcoming when and where possible. This will help enable individuals to operate confidently in their roles. The 1on1 meeting is the prime opportunity to maintain these values, by treating said meetings like Fort Knox - everything shared between the two parties are as confidential as needed, and or as open as needed, too. Staff members should feel that they can speak freely about how they feel about their work experience, compensation, or any other issue that relates to the individual and their connection to the company. 

Keep the Location Fresh and In - Person

Changing up the meeting location changes how we interact with one another. The kinds of conversations one would have in a coffee shop differ greatly than a conversation held in a conference room or on a walk in the park. While we understand that meeting in the conference room can be mutually convenient, it can potentially deter or change the tone of the conversation for worse, not better. Keep things fresh and different by choosing creative locations or options, like a walk around the office, or over lunch, or even a happy hour meeting. Whatever works for you and your shared interests, use it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. 

E-meetings And Reschedules: Stay Minimal 

It’s understandable that life happens, plans change, things come up, for everyone and anyone. Sometimes, these obstacles can try to interfere with our 1on1 sessions, which can increase the probability of cancellation. However, canceling your 1on1 can lead to a loss of productivity, or an influx of uncertainty and ergo, countless emails or future issues. It can also lead to internal stress or assumption of lack of value within the canceled-on party, which no one wants or surely deserves. Avoid these types of issues or future conflict by taking an alternative route, like simply choosing to reschedule for a later time. There is also the opportunity to have an e-meeting through programs like Zoom, Skype, or Slack, who each provide video chat to their users. While having an e-meeting can serve as a temporary fix, we don’t recommend resorting to this solution often. E-meetings can minimize the impact of the session, so keep the reschedules and consistent future sessions as 1on1 physical meetings as much as possible. 

Feedback: Mutual & Reciprocated 

In these sessions, it’s important that all parties are seen and heard by the other party and sometimes, the company itself. Allowing for an opportunity to exchange feedback towards the end of the session, is an integral facet that will allow for growth all around. This means the superior should take time to listen to their subordinates’ feedback, and vice versa, about job performance, company changes like policy updates, and even anything that is going on outside of the workplace that might be affecting their work environment. While we are not required nor entitled to 100% of this kind of intimate conversation, it’s important to create that space for it to be shared. 

Be Present. 

This value needs little explanation, but great emphasis. In this technology-based age, it’s profoundly easy to be distracted from what’s unfurling before you in the present moment, with something as simple as a text notification, or ping to an Apple Watch. Before your sessions begin, take a moment to openly silence all smart devices and deactivate notifications until your time is finished. Unless someone is using a device like a laptop or the notes feature on a phone to document the meeting’s progress, all smart devices should be silenced and stored until the meeting is complete. This further emphasizes the importance of your shared space and creates an element of respect and true engagement. No one should feel like a notification like a text or an email is more important or valued than who they are, their presence, or their needs. 

Establish A Future Game Plan 

Once you’ve reached a stopping point for your session, it’s important to establish how you all plan to move forward, so that goals are accomplished and requests are fulfilled. This includes

  • Setting a date for the next meeting 

  • Action Items to be tackled between today and the next session 

  • Housekeeping needs that will help keep everyone moving forward within the company effectively. 

Setting these goals and tasks can help all parties make sure that nothing addressed during the current session goes unmet. All parties involved can move forward with clarity, intent, and maybe even a little bit of inspiration. A future game plan with the next date in mind will also make sure tasks are completed in a timely manner. This plan could even include a midpoint check-in, if necessary. 

Conclusion 

Not all meetings can and will meet each of these aforementioned points. Growth takes time and effort, and the opportunity for mistakes and missteps will litter the path as you go. What matters most is that everyone can understand and recognize this and proceed forward without reservation or preconceived notions, which in turn can make for a great success at the end of the road. Take these fundamentals and apply them in your workplace and future meetings when and where possible. You’ll be happily surprised to see how effective they truly can be.


Danielle Longueville