How to Stop Wasting Time in One-on-Ones
Unfocused spontaneity ends in triviality.
A squirrel on steroids chases every nut, but gets none.
Schedule things that matter most or things that matter least will replace them.
Don’t spend a little time doing a lot of things.
Stop wasting time in one-on-ones:
Don’t wing it. Plan it.
Send a discussion question the day before your one-on-one that focuses on development and growth.
Questions for one-on-ones:
- What’s on your agenda this week that matters most to you?
- What are your top five commitments this week?
- What situations would you like to improve?
- What recurring frustrations or problems would you like to improve?
- Where are the points of positive energy on your team? What’s happening in those areas?
- How might you fuel energy on your team?
- How can we make our company a place where you love coming to work?
- What is your contribution to the emotional atmosphere of your team/organization? How would you like to contribute?
- What are we doing that holds us back? How might we change that?
- What are you doing that holds you back? How might you move forward?
- What one thing could I/you do to make your work experience more enjoyable and productive?
- What happens on your best days at work? What could we do to increase your number of “best” days?
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Stephen R. Covey.
I’m a huge fan of spontaneity, but spontaneity is not an excuse for lack of preparation.
Planned spontaneity is better than winging it.
An agenda gives potential to spontaneity.
What makes a one-on-one a great use of time?
What would you like to discuss with your boss in your next one-on-one?
24 tips to have more effective one-on-ones (Soapbox)
How to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive (HBR)
Meaningful Engagement: Making Your One-on-Ones Matter (Indeed)
Loved this post! Great conversation prompts, thank you!
This comes in perfect timing as I plan more consistent One-on-One meetings with my leadership team. We quit making time because they were wasting time. Having a set agenda makes perfect sense! Thank you!
Thanks Therese. I wish you well as you move forward.
Perhaps one question to ask when something feels like a waste of time is, “What would be true if we were excited to have our next one-on-one?”
These are great conversation prompts from the leadership view and can be used as prompts to aid mentoring conversations as well. I’d like to find a list as beneficial from the employees view, as they should be driving the one-on-one conversation.
Thanks Susan. Great suggestion re: employee driven one-on-ones. I believe in that.
Perhaps ask your team to generate a list of questions/topics for one-on-ones?
Absolutely helpful. I’ve got new questions to help my one on one with my team.
Thanks mimipassion. Here’s to the future.
Leadership and management should invest in one-on-one’s. In reality time doesn’t even exist, so one-on-one’s aren’t a waste of time. Purpose should be discussed. Realistically speaking, team leads, supervisors, managers really don’t have that much freedom within an organization. The article gives advice based on an organization that evolves around “humane cultures.” Most businesses in America are just that…about business…and don’t bother to see employees as individuals and human beings. If the “spirit” of human life were celebrated and valued in this country we would experience a new reality and that includes the workplace.
Hi Dan, Our company has implemented 30 for 30’s. That is 30 meeting every 30 days and our focus is Accomplishments, Challenges and Goals. Every month the employee fills out a Workday form and it is submitted to their supervisor who then schedules the time to meet with the employee. At that point the supervisor can review and have a discussion on each of the items and review and downfalls from the month.