24. August 2018 Blog

4 steps for successful 1-on-1 meetings with your manager

Friendly communication between the manager and the employee during 1-on-1 meetings

Regular 1-on-1 meetings are an excellent platform for open conversations between managers and employees. They create space for honest communication, which helps to build trust between the manager and his team. 1-on-1 meetings are a great time for employees to express their emotions, ideas, achievements, frustrations and to discuss their career plans.

In today’s ambitious world, everyone is trying to get accomplished. People want to have a job they like. They want to develop their skills and crave for career growth. In order to achieve all these things, they need to feel supported by their managers. Rule number one of a manager who cares about his team’s success and satisfaction is to have regular 1-on-1 meetings.

In the previous blog post Leadership: Decisive 1-on-1 meetings for your team, we’ve covered 1-on-1 meetings from the perspective of the manager – why and how they should be organized and what benefits they can create. In this article, we will look at 1-on-1 meetings from the perspective of employees.

After all, 1-on-1 meetings are not just about the manager. Sure, the manager should be the one who leads the conversation, asks questions and gradually goes through individual topics (e.g. teamwork, employee satisfaction, short-term goals, etc.). However, if you as an employee feel frustrated or satisfied, you should bring it up. Use the opportunity.

Each 1-on-1 meeting requires preparation. Yes, your preparation as well. Never attend a meeting as a tabula rasa. 1-on-1 meetings are also about you giving feedback to your manager – what did they improve or what could be even better, but also what are your views about your own work. To get positive results from your regular meetings, you need to come prepared.

If you are not sure what a 1-on-1 should look like and how to prepare, read the following 4 tips. They will help you easily survive your 1-on-1 meetings.

1) Prepare everything you want to say

As you go through your week, write down a list of topics, issues, ideas and suggestions you want to discuss. On the day of the meeting, go through the list again to make sure you didn’t forget anything. 1-on-1 meetings will be efficient and successful only if you contribute and come prepared.

You can divide the topics into categories, e.g.:

  1. Short-term goals:  Tell your manager about your ambitions, aspirations, challenges – the sooner the manager knows about them, the sooner he can help you achieve results.
  2. Self-improvement: Discuss what you are already good at and what you need help with.
  3. Team improvement: Do you have ideas that could help your team work better? 1-on-1 meeting is an excellent opportunity to present them.
  4. Relations with colleagues: Are you having problems with a colleague? Your manager can act as a mediator and coach you through how to work together.
  5. Personal issues: Are you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed or happy and satisfied? Think about why you’re feeling this way. Try to look for potential solutions you’d like to present to your manager.

Try to ask yourself the following questions and find answers. Tell your manager so that he knows how you’re doing at work.

  • What do I like the most about my job? 
  • What do I dislike about working here?
  • If I could change one thing about my job, what would it be?
  • What are my plans for the near future?
  • What is currently the biggest challenge I’m facing?
  • Is there anything that prevents me from growing?
  • If I didn’t have this job, what job would I want?
  • What do I find motivating and demotivating? 
  • What progress have I made since the last meetings?
  • Do I have enough time to fulfill my tasks?

Remember – your manager is not a mind reader. If you don’t tell them what makes you upset or satisfied, don’t expect them to know.

2) Prepare answers for potential questions

Before the meeting, you should take some time to think about answers that your manager might ask. Don’t forget about questions that are part of each of your meetings. There’s nothing worse than coming unprepared! No manager wants to draw out answers from their employees or see them sitting silently thinking about the answer for ages. That doesn’t make a good impression.

For example, think about the following questions:

  • Are you happy with your work? Can you tell me why or why not?
  • What do you like most about your job?
  • What kind of projects do you enjoy working on? 
  • What projects would you be interested in working on next?
  • Do you feel like you are learning new things? What have you learnt lately?
  • What areas would you like to know more about?
  • Is there anyone in the team who is difficult to work with? Why?
  • Do you think you receive sufficient feedback? Do others give you feedback, too?

If you prepare for your 1-on-1 meeting in advance, you can use the time efficiently and focus on things that really matter.

3) Talk about your long-term career goals

The scenario is the same over and over again – your manager asks what your goals are. You discuss what you want to achieve and how you want to grow. Then, some time goes by, and nothing changes. It’s no surprise that lack of growth and development are the most frequent reasons why people switch jobs.

If you care about your job and want to make progress, don’t be discouraged. At each 1-on-1 meeting with your manager, allocate sufficient time to a conversation about development and growth – what skills you want to achieve, what you want to improve, what you want to learn or what project you would like to be involved in. Discuss your progress to help you achieve your long-term goals.

Your manager probably knows about opportunities in the company that you have no idea about. That’s why career and skills growth should be part of each 1-on-1 meeting, because it’s more likely that you will get where you want. This may also open up new opportunities.

4) Meeting reports – an important part of your 1-on-1 meeting 

Employees hate when the manager asks: "I’m sorry, what did we talk about last time?" Every manager is busy and your 1-on-1 meeting is just one of many conversations they’ve had that week or even that day. It’s hard for them to remember things you talked about if they were not written down.

Meeting reports are an essential part of effective and meaningful 1-on-1 meetings. Always write a short meeting minutes immediately after the session is over. You will both remember important topics you’ve covered and you can also track progress. Meeting reports should include follow-up steps and action plan for the period to come. Always email the meeting report to your manager. 

CloudTalk call center meeting reports

Reports can be used in future meetings as well – you can start the next meeting by revisiting the topics you discussed and agreed on during the previous one.

Businesses of all industries and sizes should understand that high-quality and regular 1-on-1 meetings are crucial for the health of their business and for the satisfaction of their employees. 1-on-1 meetings increase employee engagement and motivation at work.