I’m often asked to coach leaders on the art of conducting a powerful one-on-one meeting.

One-on-one’s are extremely important. They offer the leader/coach an opportunity to very specifically address the needs of each person on their team.  It also gives permission to the employee/coachee to be open and honest both in a safe environment that avoids putting him/her in a vulnerable position with other teammates. Look at it this way, we all have strengths and weaknesses, but do we all want them addressed in public? Of course not. So one-on-one meetings are important in today’s work world.

  1. A disciplined schedule for one-on-one’s is critical. A recurring event should exist in both parties calendars and it should be held as sacred as any other appointment. DON’T CANCEL! If you, a leader, cancels, misses or minimizes the importance of the one-on-one, the employee will feel it. It’s like being stood up on date night when you’re 18. When the recurring time is not honored, there are hurt feelings coupled with short and long-term negative impact. However, When done properly, one-on-one’s give confidence, build deep relationships and positively impact culture and revenue.
  2. A productive one-on-one meeting looks almost the same every time. There should be high accountability to expectations that are scored on a consistent scale (1-5 for example) with clearly documented next steps that both parties agree to do before the next one-on-one. And then on the next one-on-one, review documented changes and repeat! A very clear picture is painted of an employee and managers committed to getting better and contributing more if the benchmark is clearly communicated and accountability is in place.
  3. Leave time for digging into each person. We’re all wired differently and what is important to them and you vary from month to month. For instance, If your employee just had a baby you want time to see how that’s impacting your employee. Both personally and professionally. Their productivity, attendance (if needed in the office), attitude, etc. may be impacted and therefore impacting the business. This may affect expectations, requirements, etc.  Another necessary component is to dig into a person’s head-trash (which is what I call the garbage we all carry around that often times impacts our willingness or ability to do our work effectively).
  4. Whether your role is a leader or a brand new hire in the mailroom, at the conclusion of every one-on-one the following question should be humbly asked by both parties and the answer humbly received. “Is there anything you would like to see me start doing, stop doing, do more of or less of?” This question will almost always expose a nugget or two that will help your organization strive. Listen to the answer, take action and get to your revenue.

Quotes from this article are featured in this ebook and this great article on O’Reilly’s.com