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How to Host an Effective One-on-One Meeting

You've heard the old saying, "the only certainties in life are death and taxes." Well if you ask us, meetings should be added to that list. Because we've all had to sit through our share of boring, unproductive, and cringe-worthy corporate gatherings. But not all meetings have to be this way!

Today we want to talk about one-on-one meetings. We'll share with you three reasons why they're important and four steps to host them effectively.

By the time you're done reading this article, you'll be a one-on-one meeting master who hosts enjoyable get-togethers that your team doesn't hate. Who knows? They might even look forward to attending your one-on-ones!

Why host a one-on-one?

We get it, you're busy. You already meet with your entire team at least once a week. Do you really need to take the time to meet with each of your employees individually as well? Of course, you don't have to. But doing so has three distinct advantages:

Honest feedback

One-on-one meetings give you the chance to obtain honest feedback from your team — feedback they might not be willing to share in front of their peers. This is a golden opportunity!

The information you receive, whether it's about company policies, workplace culture, the customers you serve, or something else can be used to improve your business. And because the feedback is coming from your employees, i.e. the folks in the trenches and on the frontlines, it should carry extra weight.

Mentorship opportunities

If you are a manager l, it's your job to guide your team toward company goals. To do this effectively, you need help your employees to develop and grow.  In other words, you need to mentor them and help them become the best professionals that they possibly can be.

One-on-one meetings are the perfect arena for this. You'll be able to provide constructive criticism in a safe envitronment.Rapport building

Lastly, one-on-one meetings help managers build rapport with their employees. When you seek your team's honest feedback, you show them that you care about their opinions. When you take the time to mentor them, you demonstrate a level of care that most managers never display. Both of these things help to build strong, lasting relationships.

A private meeting, whether it lasts for 10 minutes or a full hour, will also give you the chance to "shoot the breeze" and get to know your staff on a more personal level.

4 steps to successful one-on-one meetings

1. Have a plan

We don't recommend "winging it" or improvising during your one-on-one meetings with employees. While you should be prepared to adjust for any eventuality, having a set agenda will help to ensure your meetings are enjoyable and productive. Unfortunately, only 37% of meetings in the U.S actually follow this tip. 

How you plan your one-on-ones, though, is completely up to you. You could, for example, start with general small talk and ease your way into business-related topics. Or, you could get right to the point and leave small talk for the break room.

No matter which approach you take — one of the two mentioned above or something completely different — having a plan will benefit your one-on-one get-togethers.

2. Listen more than you speak

One-on-ones are generally most effective when management professionals take a step back and listen to their employees, rather than the other way around.

While it's perfectly okay (even necessary in some instances) to spend time educating your team members, you won't be able to glean valuable insights this way. When possible, ask your employees questions about company processes, workplace culture, their goals and challenges… Anything that will key you into areas of improvement.

After asking these questions, listen intently for the answers. Do your best to really understand what your team is telling you. This will reassure them that you care about their opinions. It will also help you actually do something with the knowledge you gain.

3. Give action items

Before dismissing your staff members from your one-on-one meetings, give them a few action items to work on. Action items could mean training materials to go through, deadlines to hit, skill sets to work on. What you ask your employees to do post-meeting will depend on who the employee is and what the two of you discussed.

By giving your team members things to either work on or accomplish after your meeting concludes, you'll make it more likely that progress will be made.

4. Look for ways to improve

Lastly, always look for ways to improve your one-on-one meetings. Did your last attempt feel awkward? Ask yourself "why?" Was your last one-on-one a smashing success? Dig deep and find out the reason(s) it was so successful.

You can also send out pulse surveys after your solo meetings and learn about how effective they were, directly from the folks that sat through them. This information can then be used to update and improve your one-on-one meeting processes.

Better meetings, better business

One-on-one meetings are a great tool in the manager’s toolbelt. Once you learn how to host them effectively, you'll be able to receive more honest feedback, build rapport with your team, and even mentor them more successfully.

Fortunately, hosting stellar one-on-ones isn't difficult. Just follow the four steps:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Listen more than you speak
  3. Give action items
  4. Look for ways to improve

If you follow this simple four-step process, we're confident that you'll be able to start hosting effective, business-boosting one-on-one meetings in no time. Good luck!

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