Managers one-on-ones meeting playbook

What is it ?

1:1s are your (ideally) weekly catchups for 30 minutes (at-least) with your direct reports.

Why is it important?

It goes back to the core purpose of being a manager - treating people as humans and not "resources" and helping them grow and flourish within the organisation. Your job, as a manager, is to be a multiplier by removing barriers, providing new perspective, and enabling them to be successful.

Other benefits include:

  • Getting to know your team better
  • It's an opportunity to understand:

- what's going well and what's not going well

- what (if any) circumstances - personal or professional - have changed  and what impact it has had or will have on their work

- their motivation(s) and aspiration(s)

  • It is also a great way to give and solicit feedback - both good and bad

What makes an effective 1:1?

Here are some strategies to get the most out of your 1:1s

  • It's not a project status update - use stand-ups and other meetings/channels for project updates
  • Don't skip 1:1s - it is tempting to de-prioritise these meetings over other "project meetings".  Frequently cancelling 1:1s undermines its effectiveness. If you must cancel, ask to reschedule.
  • If you're in the not so enviable position of providing difficult feedback about their performance or behaviour - you should consider following the Radical Candour approach. Make your feedback direct, specific, and sincere - demonstrate that you personally care.
  • Discuss career and growth goals at least once every 2 months, and confirm if their current trajectory is aligned with their expectations.
  • Take notes aplenty.

Bonus tips

A few more pro-tips for taking the whole thing up a notch.

  • Skip level 1:1s : If you're a manager of managers, then try and do adhoc 1:1s with your managers direct reports  (i.e. your indirect reports). This will help you gain a deeper insight into the organisation, find out how your managers are doing, identify and root-out communication dysfunction, and finally to demonstrate that you're engaged at all levels
  • Consider doing the 1:1s outside the confines of the office meeting rooms to reduce the tension of boss-employee dynamic - maybe go for a walk, or do it over lunch or coffee. It does not mean that you leave your professionalism at the door.
  • Setup 1:1s with your peers - the agenda might be different but the idea is to improve interpersonal relationship, solicit feedback, discuss approaches to improve collaboration between teams/squads/departments

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, if you found it useful and if you have any comments or more tips, please hit me up on twitter (@anup)

Anup Jadhav

Anup Jadhav

Anup Jadhav is a software developer, and engineering manager who enjoys solving interesting problems and loves a good coffee in the morning