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Meeting with Purpose: how to get the best out of a 1:1

My recent management development session with a new manager reminded me of the importance of purpose when it comes to meeting

I was working with a recently appointed people manager, who (quite rightly) identified the need to book in some 1:1 sessions with their new team members.

When I asked what the 1:1 sessions were for, the new manager said simply "well, because I think that's what managers do".

Yes, many managers do hold 1:1 meetings with their team members, but if you've ever either sat through, or held a 1:1 which felt like it went no-where, you may need to rethink the way you're doing things.

1:1 meetings can meander and cover many subjects without feeling like they really achieve anything, so try these tips to get the best out of them.

#1 - What's the point?

Too many 1:1 meetings have no purpose. What is the point in you getting together? Make sure that the point or purpose of the meeting is clear to both parties and communicated before you get together. This doesn't mean that you can't have a meeting just to catch up, or to get to know each other a little better, just make sure that the purpose is clear from the outset. This approach will help you both to feel that there has been a benefit in spending time together.

#2 - Start with the end in mind

As the great Mr Covey says. Similarly to point 1, make sure that you know where you want to get to by the end of the 1:1. If you have critical feedback to deliver, make that your focus, if you want to discuss a new project, know what you want the outcome to look like. This helps to strengthen the purpose of the 1:1 and makes sure that you both end the meeting with a sense of clarity and accomplishment.

"Begin with the end in mind" Stephen Covey

#3 - Give feedback

A 1:1 is a great opportunity to share feedback. Prepare any feedback and make sure that you know what you are going to say and how you are going to deliver it. Be clear about what you mean and make sure that your feedback is objective, detailed and constructive - this rule applies for both corrective and positive feedback. If you don't know where to start, we love the 3-point assertion message technique.

#4 - Ask for feedback

It's also a great opportunity for you to ask how you're doing as a manager - BUT don't spring this as a surprise question during the meeting. Let the person know that you'd like some feedback before you meet and give them the chance to reflect and put some ideas together. We have found that you're most likely to get a response if you're specific about what you're looking for.

#5 - Protect the time

We really recommend that 1:1 meetings are booked into calendars with plenty of notice and that once in, they aren't moved (unless the roof blows off). This sends a clear message that time with this team member is important to you and that you value them, last minute moves and cancellations without very good reason does the opposite.

If you want to get the best out of a 1:1, communicate clearly before hand

When you send out your invitations for 1:1s, make sure that you are communicating the purpose and the plan really clearly. What you want to get out of the meeting, what you plan to discuss, and what you'd like the other person to prepare.

This all helps to make sure that both of you feel that 1:1 time is well spent, rather than time that a manager spends with someone just because it's the done thing.

If you'd like to hear about how we can develop the managers and leaders in your business with our Institute of Leadership and Management accredited programmes, get in touch.


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