5 Pillars for Conducting Effective 1:1 Meetings

4 min read
May 25, 2021 9:35:51 PM

Leadr is built on the power of 1:1 meetings. They are essential to what we believe and what we advocate. If they are done well, or even just consistently, 1:1s will significantly improve trust and relational equity on your team.

Why should I care about effective 1:1s?

You may be asking yourself this question. Before we get to the 5 Pillars for conducting effective 1:1s, it is critical that you understand why effective 1:1s are fundamental to success at every level of your organization.

At Leadr, we have found that the road to becoming an ineffective team is paved with:

As a manager…

  1. Prioritizing projects > people

  2. Becoming swamped with busy schedules

  3. Giving up on the HARD work

As a team member…

  1. Dreading accountability

  2. Taking concerns to the wrong people

  3. An attitude of what is in it for me? > How can I help the team win?

Don’t just take our word for it; national polls and distinguished ministry and marketplace leaders are echoing this truth about one-on-one communication.

According to Gallup, only 30% of staff are actively engaged in their workplace. The report states that engagement is highest with those that have some form of weekly communication.

Alex Turnbull, CEO & Founder of Groove, says, “Cultures where important things get left unsaid are unproductive, unpleasant and frankly toxic.” 

Saastr Founder Jason Lemkin says, “You don’t have time for 1-on-1s. This is true. The thing is, you also don’t not have time. There isn’t a better investment you can make in people than meeting once a week, or at least, once every 2 weeks. Get it on the calendar.”

Getting 1:1s on the calendar and consistently showing up to them is not easy. However, it is an essential part of developing a sincere and enduring culture on your team. 

Below are 5 Pillars for conducting effective 1:1s. Use these to take advantage of the time you get to spend with your team--these 5 discoveries have made a lasting difference on ours.

5 Pillars for 1:1s

  1. Present

    • 1:1s aren’t effective if your mind is elsewhere. Be present.

    • What would it be like to sit in the other person’s seat?

    • For managers: you might spend all day in meetings, but remember this might be one of few for them (make it a safe space).

  2. Prepare

    • Preparing for conversations in advance shows the other person you value their time.

      1. Share agenda in advance. Tip: schedule five minutes the day prior to add your thoughts.

      2. Collaborate on agenda: both people should have contributions to the discussion. If meetings are often one-sided, this time may not be enough of a priority.

      3. Balance projects, care, and development: Not all meetings will have all three, but all three should be regular.

    • Challenge: Take a look at your 1:1s this past month. If you haven’t made intentional time to discuss projects, growth, AND life outside work, something is missing.

  3. Location

    • Location can set the tone for the conversation.

      1. Find a safe and secure location to have one-on-one meetings:

        1. Office

        2. Conference room

        3. Coffee shop

        4. Walk

      2. This produces trust and candor in the meeting.

      3. Even while remote--be thoughtful about your location.

    • Note: What feels safe and secure to you may not feel safe and secure to the other person.

  4. Documentation

    • “If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”

    • If there are any action points or takeaways from a meeting, the person responsible should send an email after the meeting recapping what was said.

    • In general, note-taking and recaps (if applicable) show respect and accountability and that you will remain on top of the task.

  5. Personalization

    • With busy schedules, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of routine.

    • Don’t fall into the trap of approaching each 1:1 the same. Some tips:

      1. Start each working relationship with: “What you should know about working with me.”

      2. Use those answers to find out what makes them unique.

      3. Build your 1:1s based on that.

      4. Continue to iterate and adjust over time.

To measure the effectiveness of your 1:1s, consider these questions when the meeting is over

  1. Are you leaving energized, enthusiastic, and motivated?

  2. Are you smiling?

  3. Or are your shoulders sagging, eyes glazed, and feet dragging out of the meeting?

....that’s your scorecard as a leader. If you implement the 5 Pillars above, you will find yourself walking out of meetings doing #1 and #2 much more often than #3.

We live by this motto at Leadr:

Healthy work cultures are driven by healthy relationships. 

Healthy relationships are driven by meaningful conversations.

So, Where to Start?

  1. Establish a Rhythm: Find a recurring time on the calendar to sit down for 30+ minutes, at least once every two weeks.

  2. Communicate Openly: Set clear expectations, and review from time to time to understand what works best for you.

  3. Complete Your Profile: Take five minutes to share your personality types, bio, and favorites in Leadr.

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