One-on-one meetings with employees are a crucial aspect of effective leadership. Organizations spend countless hours, money, and other resources trying to find the most qualified talent on board, and then spend more money to keep that talent motivated and engaged. And yet, the single most time time-efficient and effective way to invest in the growth and development of employees is a simple feedback session with their direct supervisor.
In this article, we will delve into the three main sections that make up a successful one-on-one meeting: expectations, feedback, and growth and development. By following this structure, you can ensure that your meetings are productive and meaningful, leading to improved performance and employee satisfaction.
The first part of your one-on-one meetings with employees should focus on expectations. Setting clear objectives and expectations is the foundation of any successful working relationship. During one-on-one meetings, it is essential to discuss and align on these expectations to ensure that everyone is on the same page. By doing so, you can monitor progress, celebrate achievements, and identify any factors that may be affecting performance.
By setting clear objectives and roles, you provide your employees with a sense of direction and purpose. This clarity allows them to focus their efforts on the most important tasks and prioritize their work effectively. Monitoring progress and celebrating achievements not only boosts morale but also provides an opportunity to recognize and reward outstanding performance. Additionally, by identifying factors that may be affecting performance, you can work together to find solutions and remove any obstacles that may hinder progress.
The second part of your one-on-one meetings with employees should focus on feedback. Feedback is a powerful tool for growth and improvement. During one-on-one meetings, it is crucial to provide fair feedback that highlights both areas of high performance and areas for improvement. By acknowledging and appreciating the employee’s strengths, you motivate them to continue excelling in those areas. Simultaneously, by providing constructive feedback, you help them identify areas where they can grow and develop.
This section is also meant to be a two-way conversation. This is a time for employees to give you feedback as well. How are you doing as their manager? What resources do they need that you can provide? Encourage your employees to share their thoughts and ideas, and actively listen to their feedback. By fostering a safe and supportive environment, you can build trust and strengthen the relationship with your team members.
Growth and Development
The final part of your one-on-one meetings with employees should discuss the employees’ growth and development. Take the time to discuss their long-term career goals, the skills they want to develop, and potential future roles they aspire to. Understanding your employees’ career aspirations allows you to tailor their development plans and provide them with the necessary resources and opportunities to achieve their goals. By identifying the skills and knowledge they need to grow, you can offer targeted training and development programs. Additionally, supporting employees in their current roles by assigning challenging projects or providing mentorship opportunities can facilitate their growth and prepare them for future roles within the organization.
This section should focus on the real and accurate career objectives of employees. Unfortunately, too often employees who lack trust in their boss or the company invent false ambitions (“I want to be a manager” or “I’m here for the long-term.”) It’s okay if some employees decide their long-term goals will take them away from the organization. Leaders can still invest in their growth, and they can still be high performers in the meantime.
One-on-one meetings with employees are a valuable investment of time and effort. By following the threefold structure of expectations, feedback, and growth and development, you can create a supportive and engaging work environment. Candid and honest conversations in these meetings can lead to faster growth and better results than formal annual reviews or performance improvement plans.
Remember, the order of the three sections is important, as ending on growth and development helps make the conversation forward-looking and motivating. By setting clear expectations, providing constructive feedback, and supporting your employees’ growth, you can foster a culture of continuous improvement and help everyone on your team do their best work ever.
About the author
David Burkus is an organizational psychologist, keynote speaker, and bestselling author of five books on leadership and teamwork.