Five Best Practices for Conducting Better 1-2-1 Meetings

How often are you conducting 1-2-1 meetings with your employees?

How would you rate the effectiveness of those meetings?

How would your employees rate the effectiveness of those meetings?

I calculated recently that I have conducted over 7500 1-2-1 meetings with clients in the past 25 years. One day, I expect to hit 10,000 meetings.

What have I learned about conducting these meetings? Here are five best practices:

1. Always have a meeting agenda. It should be a collaborative effort between you and your colleague and published before the meeting. This ensures a structure to your meeting and that you are talking about what is most important to both of you.

2. Be intentional about how the meeting starts and how it ends. I often start a 1-2-1 meeting with some type of check-in. Maybe a quick review of the past month in terms of highlights and lowlights. Likewise, I usually end the meeting with a brief review of key actions for the next 30 days.

3. When the meeting is over, ask yourself, “Did I listen more than I talked?” For me, that ratio of listening to talking in a 1-2-1 meeting should be at least 80-20. One of my objectives in a 1-2-1 meeting is to get the client to verbalize out loud what he or she has been saying to themselves the past 30 days. Best-selling author Steven Covey was famous for suggesting that we need to “seek to understand than to be understood.”

4. Take notes. First, it suggests to your employees that what you are discussing is important. Second, in a month you will want to go back to those notes to refresh your memory on what you talked about in that last meeting and what you committed to.

5. Make progress. One of my objectives in a 1-2-1 meeting with a client is to make progress. This might be to come up with a new or better strategy or make a difficult decision. I always want my clients to feel like we are progressing. If the meeting is a football game and I am on offense, I want to make sure that we are always moving the ball forward, making first downs, and scoring an occasional touchdown when possible.

Research shows that your employees want to have regular meetings with their managers. Every 30 days is optimal. They look forward to getting timely feedback on their job performance and discussing future needs. Rarely do I hear employees complain about too much communication with their manager. It’s usually the opposite. Never enough timely communication from their supervisor.

As you start the new year, it’s a great time to improve your 1-2-1 meetings.