One-to-one meetings are more important than ever as many companies continue to guide a workforce that is remote or transitioning to a hybrid model with limited time in the office.
“Distance creates a new set of challenges that leaders must acknowledge and conquer so they can connect with and inspire their people. Maintaining relationships with your people—and strengthening relationships among your people—needs to be a primary objective,” writes William Arruda in Forbes.
Arruda argues that “making meetings meaningful” is one tactic companies must embrace. To that end, the one-to-one or one-on-one meeting done correctly can be a bellwether of employee engagement.
“One-on-one meetings are a critical component of employee, team and business success,” writes Kristin Ryba of Quantum Workplace.
Unfortunately, not every company understands the value of holding one-on-one meetings at regular and frequent intervals or has equipped their managers with the interpersonal skills to successfully conduct one-on-one meetings.
The Value of One-to-One Meetings
Too often companies undervalue the importance of one-to-one meetings, relegating them to an end-of-the-year chore for managers and employees, under the gun to complete performance reviews during the holidays.
"One-on-ones aren't just for talking about goals or banging out a task list together," Adam Weber, chief people officer at Emplify, an employee engagement advisory firm in Fishers, Ind. told SHRM. "They're meant to create a strong foundation for relationships with employees. To that end, these meetings should have a balance of tasks, goals, rapport and feedback. It's essential to use this time to build a solid relationship with each of your employees, where you feel you can give constructive feedback that will be well-received."
How important are one-to-meetings to the success of your operations? Consider these facts:
- Gallup reported that staffers who meet on a regular one-on-one basis with managers are 3x more likely to be engaged on the jobs than employees who do not have the same regular meetings.
- According to Quantum Workplace: “86 percent of "highly engaged" companies hold one-on-one meetings regularly, compared to 50 percent of "disengaged" firms.”
- A Deloitte white paper found that “turnover at software giant Adobe dropped 30 percent after the company switched from annual performance reviews to more frequent one-on-one meetups”.
How Often Should You Conduct One-on-One Meetings?
Companies that only mandate one-to-one meetings during the “annual performance review” phase are missing out on valuable employee feedback and a chance to alter behavior and improve performance during the year.
Employees who have issues, concerns or grievances in February and March but no outlet to air them until later in the year, will naturally feel less engaged with the company and more likely to seek a role elsewhere.
Each company, and divisions and teams within the company, must come up with their own timeline for one-to-one meetings that suits their needs.
Options for the frequency of one-on-one meetings range from:
- Unplanned check-in meetings as needed, especially driven by events in the world or employee’s own life. When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, for example, many managers felt the need to do check-in meetings with employees, some daily, to find out how they were faring during the unexpected crisis.
- Recurring weekly check-in: A lot can happen in one work week and a manager that touches base with their direct reports’ weekly will always have their finger on the pulse of their team and the company at large.
- Recurring monthly one-to-one meeting: While some companies prefer a quarterly performance review, others find that a monthly one-to-one meeting is a good opportunity to gauge where the employee is at in their work flow.
- Recurring quarterly one-to-one meeting: Why wait until Q4 to address concerns that arise in Q1 or Q2? Many companies opt for comprehensive quarter performance reviews in a one-to-one setting.
- Recurring yearly one-to-one meeting: At least once a year, a major one-to-one meeting can be conducted to review performance, salary and goal setting for the coming year.
How to Make Your One-to-One Meetings Count
Most of us have sat in on or been privy to a one-to-one meeting where either the manager or employee (or often both!) do not want to be in the meeting or put the effort in to make the meeting meaningful.
To get value out of one-to-one meetings, both the manager and employee need to prepare for the encounter in advance and understand the format and expectations of the meeting.
It is important that:
- One-to-one meetings are not just one-sided, especially from the management side, but instead are a two-way conversation.
- Employees should feel secure to honestly bring up any topics and share any concerns they have about their role and the company culture.
- Both managers and employees need to devote their total attention to the one-to-one meeting, setting aside time, energy and space. This can be tougher in the age of Zoom one-on-one meetings where outside interests inside the household can compete with the call.
- Both managers and employees should be prepared to take notes and come away from the one-to-one meeting with a clear idea of the next steps.
- While you never want to rush a one-to-one meeting and starting with some personal chat is always a good way to ease into the meeting, you also do not want a meeting that has no ending point. Most one-to-one meetings should be wrapped up within 30 meetings.
- Managers and employees should schedule one-to-one meetings with a fresh perspective, avoiding meeting overload or scheduling a key one-on-one meeting on the heels of other exhaustive meetings, which can limit attention to detail.
- Finally, managers should be prepared with five key topics or less to address, but also be flexible for issues to address; and managers should always be open to, and ideally seek, feedback on their own performance from the employee.
Contact Employer Flexible today to learn we can help you manage your HR needs and help your company construct a successful one-to-one meeting template.