The 8 Golden Rules for one to one meetings – including the most common mistakes to avoid

Why you shouldn’t do it in the back of a taxi, over a pint on a Friday, or three weeks later than you said you would. We’re talking here about the importance of one-to-one meetings with your direct reports – check out this article for following the 8 golden rules.

Do you hold regular one-to-one meetings with your direct reports? And if you do, how effective are they?

When we ask our clients about one to one meetings they often say things like: –

‘Oh yes, we have regular one-to-ones because we go to client meetings in the same taxi’ 

‘There’s just no need for us to have one-to-one meetings in the diary, because we’re both in the office at 8 am so we catch up then’.

In some professional service organisations, the only way to have a one-to-one meeting with a direct report is to ‘take them out for lunch’. This is time consuming and disastrous for your waist-line!

Why are regular one-to-one meetings so important for your business?

  • One to one meetings that are set up and conducted properly are a highly effective management tool.
  • They act as an early warning system. Your direct report knows that they will have this regular opportunity to talk to you in private.
  • They will tell you things you need to know, that you might not hear otherwise.
  • You can review their performance and set goals with them. Consequently, both your direct report and your organisation are continually moving forward.

What’s the focus of these meetings?  Here are 8 do’s and don’ts:

  1. You and your direct report should work ‘on’ the business rather than ‘in’ the business during a one-to-one meeting
  1. The meeting should not last longer than 40 minutes
  1. You need a clear agenda that allows for personal updates (a check that everything outside of work is OK) and then a discussion of progress against performance objectives.
  1. The leadership communication style is that of a coach. Ask open questions and be an active listener
  1. The meeting is informal (no notes go to HR unless this is performance management)
  1. Your team member supplies the answers, comes up with solutions and generally does most of the work
  1. They take the notes, and together you agree what their next steps are towards their performance goals
  1. These meetings are held monthly. It’s important you don’t cancel the meetings or allow them to be interrupted

One of your accountabilities as a leader is to engage the people in your organisation. By holding these meetings, you place a premium on the time spent with the individual and they will feel valued and more engaged as a consequence.

Looking for some additional help with structuring your meetings with individual team members? Click on the graphic below to access our guide to holding more effective one-to-ones:

one to one meetings