4 Ways to More Effective and Meaningful 1-2-1s

How do you feel about 1-2-1s? Do you dread them, treat them as a tick box exercise, or think they are a waste of time?

Well at their worst, they can include some difficult conversations and feel like a waste of your precious time, but at their best, they can be a chance to build trust, improve engagement, share information and insights, and deal with issues before they become more serious problems.

Yes, 1-2-1s can actually be meaningful; and if yours are currently up there with a visit to the dentist for a root canal, you need a strategy to improve them.

Here are 4 ways to more effective and meaningful 1-2-1s.

Think about what you are going to ask or talk about before the meeting

This will give your meeting structure and it will help you make the most of the time you have with your team member. Do you want to focus on something important and stop things from going off on a tangent? Come up with a list of prompts to keep your discussion on topic. For example, if the 1-2-1 is going to be geared towards the team member’s development, you might want to ask questions or use prompts like:

Recall a situation at work that has helped you learn and grow

This will tell you how the team member views their strengths and in what type of situations they use them. This encourages people to think of a situation where they got good results. Your job now is to encourage them to use these same strengths again for the benefit of the team.

If you could have a mentor, who would it be, and why?

This will give your team member the chance to think about whether they would like a mentor and to tell you what support they are looking for. It will also tell you a bit about what kind of approach they like you to use with them.

Do you use your strengths in your work role?

Explain that you want to work with your team member to help them strengthen and use their strengths in their role. If they tell you that they don’t feel that they use their strengths at all, ask them what kind of tasks make them feel passionate and energetic. You can also talk about how they could support other team members by using their strengths.

These prompts are taken from my Leadership and Management Coaching Cards, a set of insightful and thought-provoking prompts and questions that managers can use in any situation from employee development to team building, and self-reflection. If you want to create an honest and open working environment where people support each other, these are a must.

To order a pack, click here.

Listen to understand, not respond

Listening to your team member to understand and learn from them will encourage open, honest, and meaningful interactions in your 1-2-1s.

Don’t just listen to respond, listen to understand. Ask questions or offer your thoughts to show that you’re interested in what they are saying.

When difficult topics come up, like concerns about interpersonal relationships or poor performance, listen to their take on things and tell them that you want to work with them to solve any issues together. This is not the time to be negative, critical, or tell them that you are right and they are wrong. 

Use the meeting to create and nurture great relationships

Great working relationships build trust and engagement, and if you invest in creating them, it will pay off in the form of more effective and better performing teams and a healthier and more profitable business.

In 1-2-1s, make your team member feel relaxed and comfortable so they’ll feel safe to express themselves openly.

Take the opportunity to check in with them, ask how things are at work and if they have any concerns they’d like to share with you. You can ask about life outside of work too to build rapport, but don’t get too personal.

Recognise a job well done

You know the saying, people who are appreciated will always do more than expected, and it’s very true. People who are appreciated will work well and they’ll work hard, and most importantly, they’ll want to stay.

If your team member is doing great work, thank them and be specific about what it is that you’re so pleased with. This will encourage them to keep up what they are doing, and they will if they feel valued.

If your 1-2-1s feel like a waste of time, implement my tips and see how you can turn them into one of the best tools you’ll ever have at your disposal for improving engagement, building trust, and helping your people develop and realise their full potential.

Do you want your team to grow and develop?

Do you want to improve engagement and create better working relationships but you don’t know where to start?

I’ll be a fresh set of eyes and a safe pair of hands to help you make it happen.

I’ll come in and help you get to the bottom of what doesn’t feel quite right, then I’ll pinpoint what would make the difference to the business.

Working with you, I’ll come up with an action plan to help you build happier, better performing teams that will work hard for you and the business.

Want to explore what’s possible?

Get in touch to arrange a chat.

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