I’m a bit torn. I read a statistic today that only 24% of employees believe their managers show up to their 1:1 meetings well-prepared. The other 76%? “Somewhat prepared,” “not prepared,” or “not prepared at all.” The article also said there should be a clear agenda and a coherent set of questions. I’m torn because I never prepare advance questions and I don’t change the agenda for my 1:1 meetings. Why? It’s not my meeting. It’s a meeting for the person on the other side of the table. 1:1 meetings, in my view, are a chance for your team member to have your full attention about emergent work or non-work matters. It’s not a time for you to “get the download.” This meeting isn’t for you. When I was doing more traditional 1:1 meetings (the ones I have now are a bit different) I opened it up with a open ended question and then I listened. Along the way I asked related questions based on what I was hearing. I was listening for what mattered to them, the obstacles they were facing, what was wrong with the work or the team or whatever, and much more. I was listening as much to the subtext as to the words. In my case showing up well-prepared meant I turned off the phone, the computer, and shut the door. It meant I was fully present. For a successful 1:1, focus on them.
Future leader speaker and author of the book Future Leader: Rebooting Leadership to Win the Millennial and Tech Future. Free stuff! Get the first five chapters of my new book, an executive summary, and the Future Leader Companion Workbook here.