ONE ON ONE
The most effective and demanding HR tool
One on one meeting is one of the few ways to get a clear picture of what's going on in your team and how do your teammates feel about it. Such meetings are not about solving current problems but rather a vehicle of shedding the light on some of the less visible issues like client risks, unexpected product blockers, assorted unspoken ambitions of your employees, etc. In other words, one on one meetings are instrumental in revealing everything that's left hidden and unsaid.
The effectiveness of this kind of meetings may depend on some of the following factors, or a combination of them:
Working culture. What are your employees talk about over a warm morning cup of tea? It is something important, something you should be aware of? Of course, if it's just a regular chatter about cat memes, traffic annoyances or a Friday night out stories, obviously it is none of your concern. But if one of your employees is secretly threatening to quit, then yeah, you definitely should do something about it.
Understanding. Or a lack of it. Let's face it, the road ahead is not always clear. And sometimes all people do is hang some stickers on the board, call unnecessary meetings or trying to copycat the way older and respectable firms run the business. Instead of getting rid of the trash that's blocking up the road, such people just imitate the activity. Guess who's getting the benefit? Yep, no one.
Effort. One thing is to call a meeting and the other is to take action. Sounds almost too simple, but still, not everyone is willing to put their money where their mouth is. Problems won't magically solve themselves, you know.
Approach. If the results of the meeting are minute, it's time to think why they are so. Maybe there's not enough connection between you and your team or perhaps your employee was forced to sit down for a good half an hour listening to you talk. It may also happen that your employee has already made the decision to leave and there's hardly anything you can do about it.
Some tend to hold one on one meetings cold open, without putting in time and effort necessary for the preparation to focus on the tasks considered more important. Even though technically such an approach is not wrong, it is always better to be prepared. To not feel like a fish out of water, you may as well:
- Look up your notes from the previous meeting. In case you didn't write any, try to recall the meeting. There may be dome important moments or topics, that should be revisited.
- Ask your employee to suggest the agenda and pick the topics, he considers vital for discussion. Let him feel trusted and highlight the importance of the meeting for him and the company.
- Establish what questions you want to ask. It's your way and your employee's way – meet somewhere in the middle
Among the questions you might want to ask yourself while preparing for the meeting, might come out the following:
- What is there that you don't know, but should be aware of?
- How does the situation look like from your employee's perspective?
- What's going on in your employee's life behind the office walls?
- What does your employee want for his career?
As a matter of fact, the main goal of the one on one meeting is to establish personal contact with an employee and collect the feedback. It is better to let the employee speak out than to "sell" your point of view. There is no rule book on where such meetings should be held. Whether it is a strict space of a conference room or a warm atmosphere of a diner of a coffee shop nearby – it's what and not where. Here are a few questions you can ask to break the ice:
- What are the most motivating tasks you perform?
- What was the last time you got bored?
- What's stopping you from upping your game?
- What's irritating you the most and how it could be dealt with?
Later on in the conversation, you might want to touch upon your employee's performance by asking something like:
- Do you need more feedback on your work? Why?
- Do you need more support from me?
- What would you do differently? Why?
As it happens, such conversations might often slip into some personal matters. It usually means signals the goal of creating an interpersonal connection between you and your employee is finally reached. You may also strengthen the bound by asking:
- What's up?
- How's your wife/husband/children?
- How did you spend the last weekend?
- Where did you go on the last vacation? How was it?
A natural result of a one on one meeting is a certain list of actions. Like who, what and when. If there is none – your meeting was in vain. Actions should speak louder than words, you know.