If you are responsible for the happiness/performance of a team and don’t have regular 1-1s, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Manager tools (a hugely popular podcast) calls these meetings the single most effective management tool.
If you're interested in learning more about the origin story of 1-1s, we recommend reading High Output Management, one of our favorite books on management.
When we launched weekly check-ins over two years ago, we heard from numerous customers that they would use the weekly responses as a conversation starter for 1-1 meetings.
With that being said, it was still a bit disconnected from the 1-1 meeting, so we decided to create a dedicated template for having 1-1s with your team. We’re trying to solve common problems with a little help from software. You can learn more about this in a video below:
Problems with 1-1 Meetings
As we gathered feedback during the development process, a few major issues popped up:
Team leaders are caught off guard
As a team leader, it’s difficult to prepare as a true 1-1 meeting is the employee's meeting. Sure, you could manually remind a team member to create an agenda, but you probably don’t want to be the nagging boss either.
You may resort to asking, “how’s everything going?” It’s likely that you will waste the first ten minutes of the meeting trying to get a sense of the topics that will be covered. This is 100% avoidable.
Heck, maybe the employee goes off on a tangent, and you spend the majority of the time on a single agenda item. If you had known what the topic of conversation would be, you could at least steer the conversation.
If only you had a better sense of the structure (and what topics would be covered), you might be able to prepare a bit more!
The next major issue is that a lot of ground can be covered in a quick 30-minute meeting, but the discussion and action items are not documented. The best leaders will take notes, but rarely are they shared.
There’s a huge opportunity for a team leader and employee to align around the conversation, but it doesn’t happen with the current reality.
Finally, 1-1 action items aren’t typically documented in a central location. This data can be helpful for a myriad of reasons outlined below:
- 1-1 action items provide a reference point for ensuring that the work is completed.
- They provide accountability for both the employee and team leader.
Introducing 1-1s in Friday
Ok, now let’s talk about how we might be able to help you hold better 1-1s. We built a super-simple implementation to start. It works like this:
- Team leaders create the 1-1 schedule (cadence, day, and time of day) for each employee.
- 24 hours before the meeting, an employee is sent an email to add agenda items. Agenda items are shared with the team leader before the meeting.
- When the meeting starts, the team leader is encouraged to recap the 1-1 meeting with a comment.
In addition, these 1-1 conversations are stored on the employee profile and can be referenced over time. You can read more about how to dramatically improve 1-1 meeting efficiency.
So far, we’ve heard some great feedback from team leaders (here’s a quote below):
It also helped me get back on track when we would go off track; we didn’t have to say, “Hmm, where were we?” Before this tool, I did not have employees share notes/agenda items before the meeting. This was great because I knew what I was “walking into.” It gave insight on the tenor of the meeting, as well – I could tell their moods by the topics they sent through. I loved it!