Updated: Aug 1, 2021
#TLDR: Five points to make the most of your meetings with direct reports
Nothing helps you in becoming and staying an effective people leader like regular 1:1 interactions with your direct reports without the distractions of issues and projects. However, many a time, 1:1 meetings quickly disintegrate into additional issue discussions, fire fighting and presentation preparation venues.
How to keep 1:1 meetings focused on yourself and your direct report? There are many techniques that you can find, but here are some simple points to use as agenda.
Where are we going as a company: Provide any information that you are authorized to disseminate. Ask your direct report for their viewpoint. This discussion is great to stamp out rumors and also elicit questions that you can answer or escalate for clarifications.
Where are you going: Ask your direct report to tell you how engaged they feel with their job, their teams and the company. These discussions can provide you early clues of anyone who might be feeling frustrated and thinking of leaving the job.
What are you doing well: Provide your evaluation and observations on what your direct report is doing well. You should use recent examples to accompany your evaluation. Such short-term and timely feedback helps to avoid performance evaluation surprises and keeps your direct report engaged.
What can you do better: As a leader, one of your responsibilities is to be a gentle shepherd for your herd. Push them to the next level of performance while guarding against burn out. Use this agenda item to provide where you see opportunities for improvement.
How can I help: Asking this question in combination with telling where your direct reports can do better has a very positive effect. As a combination, you are not just telling your direct report to improve, but also offering your help without being overbearing.
What can I do better: Keep in mind that in 1:1 meetings, you are continuously seeking feedback on your own performance as a leader. You direct reports may not have an answer in every meeting, but once you make this a habit, you will start learning great tidbits about what you can improve upon.
Frequency and duration of 1:1 is also a good topic to discuss. Depending on your span of control, bi-weekly 30-50 minute meetings are ideal for 1:1 interactions. Keep changing the flavor of these interactions to stay engaged yourself and also to keep your direct reports engaged.
What have you found to be effective way for 1:1 interactions? What have been your frustrations? Post them here.