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Mastering the Art of Effective 1-2-1 Meetings

As we concluded our January 1-2-1s last week, encompassing team members with 12 years of collaboration to those with just 2 years under their belts, the inherent value of these one-on-one sessions is always evident. However, maintaining the right balance of engagement in this process can pose a challenge, particularly when dealing with a stable and efficient team.

It’s relatively straightforward to establish a solid process with new employees, incorporating the first 30, 60, and 90-day plans, followed by annual appraisals. However, after a longer period of time, what if the meetings start feeling like mere routines? How can you ensure there’s continual value in your 1-2-1 time, whether you’re an employee or a leader?

Here’s what I have learnt and believe works well:

Mix Up the Format:

While formal sit-down meetings are crucial for setting plans, introducing variety through walking 1-2-1s or video calls can be refreshing. Each format has its place, the distraction-free setting of a room provides a different tone compared to a walking meeting. There is a noticeable change in conversation style when you walk and talk, without having eye contact.

Consistency is Key:

Regular check-ins, even when there’s nothing specific to discuss, create a valuable routine. Dedicate time for individuals to connect with their team leader, fostering a sense of belonging and encouraging open communication. My recommendation is one more formal sit down meeting per year, with two less formal check-ins over the following 12 months, making one a walking meeting (if possible)

Have a Plan:

Embrace reflection on past achievements, assess the current situation, and collaboratively plan for the future. Recognise individual contributions, delve into team dynamics, and align goals to propel the team forward positively and successfully. The more formal sit down meeting can provide the framework for reviewing past performance and agreeing in writing future actions and objectives, leaving the follow up meetings for free flowing conversations and check ins.

Don’t Overlook Marginal Gains:

Annual 1-2-1s need not solely focus on monumental changes. Acknowledge the power of marginal gains – those small, incremental improvements that collectively contribute to overall success. Whether it’s sustaining momentum or finding subtle ways to enhance margins, these efforts can be the key to consistent improvement.

In Conclusion:

1-2-1 meetings transcend formality; they are a potent tool for cultivating a positive and successful work environment. Whether in the structured setting of a formal sit-down or the dynamic engagement of a walking meeting, these interactions lay the foundation for continued growth and improvement within your team and business.

Always make time for the check-in; the moment you let it slip, you might find your enthusiasm waning. Or as an employer, you could be in receipt of an unexpected resignation letter.

Ruth – 05.02.2024. 

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