One-on-one meetings are an essential part of being a great leader. You may think you already have too many meetings, so why schedule even more with every single direct report you have? But there are a number of benefits to holding these private meetings that will build your relationships and increase efficiency throughout the organization. Consider the benefits outlined below, along with how often and where they should be held.
Increase Productivity & Accountability
Meeting with staff one-on-one gives you the advantage to better manage employees and the work they’re doing. You’ll stay up-to-date on the progress of the projects they’re working on and can directly address any issues or concerns, which will increase productivity. It will also give you the opportunity to hold that staff member accountable.
Every employee is different, with varying needs and working styles. One-on-one meetings will help you get to know your staff better and build and maintain a relationship. Good relationships between managers and staff improve communication and enhances morale. Once you get to know your staff, you can tailor your management style towards each person specifically. What motivates one employee may not motivate another. You’ll be better able to listen to and mentor your staff members, enhancing trust within each other.
More Personal Time
Private meetings give you the opportunity to discuss more personal issues in a private setting. Sometimes there are external factors affecting an employee’s productivity at work. Maybe they’re having marital problems, going through a financial crisis, or recently received some bad news regarding their health. One-on-one meetings are a great place to get to know your employees on a personal level to better understand their performance at work. Not only that, but private meetings will also give your staff members the opportunity to discuss a work matter that they may not feel comfortable discussing in a group setting. Make sure your staff members understand that while these meetings are a place to share information back and forth, it’s mainly to focus on their needs, not yours.
Without the dedicated one-on-one time with employees, you may find that you’re experiencing more disruptions throughout the work day. These interruptions can affect efficiency and productivity. They’re also not comprehensive and you may end up taking even more time trying to figure out exactly what the problem is that called for an interruption. Spontaneous knocks on your office door or sudden, passing discussions in the hallway from every employee take time. Instead, use the time to schedule and structure one-on-one meetings to cut back on those interruptions and vague, spur-of-the-moment project updates.
Regular one-on-one meetings guarantee there will be no surprises when annual reviews roll around. The last thing you want is to catch your staff members off guard when discussing their performance over the past year. This could cause tension and uneasiness in the individual. Regular communication and feedback will make those annual reviews run more efficiently, giving you more time to discuss future goals instead of getting into the weeds of past issues.
When, Where, How
Because every employee is unique, your one-to-one meetings will vary. Some staff members may open up and excel with formal, sit-down meetings. Others may prefer to get out of the office and discuss topics over coffee. Varying skill levels and experience among employees will also come into play as far as frequency and location of those private meetings. Some you may need to meet with weekly if they require more direction or are new to the company. Others you may only need to see monthly if they’re a seasoned employee or their pace of work is slower than others. No matter the schedule, make sure they’re done on a regular basis and are scheduled ahead of time. Sticking to those pre-planned dates will allow you prepare and you’ll have expectations clearly defined before the meeting even begins. If something comes up, don’t just cancel the meeting. Reschedule it. You must be open to modifying your meeting format, length, and frequency to make employees feel as comfortable and safe as possible.