4 Ways Managers Screwup One-On-Ones

Image of people frolicking.

Work matters but there is not work without people.

A simple thing that’s made complex disappoints and drains.

4 ways to screwup one-on-ones:

#1. Leave them to the last minute.

People feel valued when you prioritize time with them. Rushing around at the last minute to spend a few minutes with a person leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

#2. Focus exclusively on the work.

Work matters but there is no work without people.

The #1 thing employees ask is, “Does my employer care about me?” (Gallup)

#3. Act professional.

Connect with people.

When professionalism creates distance, it’s a hinderance.

#4. Hog the time.

Listening tells people they matter. Let others do most of the talking.

Useful one-on-ones are:

#1. Employee driven:

You are there for them. They aren’t there for you.

Let people know it’s their meeting, not your meeting.

Don’t let pressing issues distract you from their development time. There are always pressing issues.

#2. Focused:

Prepare people for the first question you’ll ask by sending a note.

Send an email that enables focus. You might say, “I plan to ask this question during our one-on-one.”

  1. What’s on your agenda for our meeting today?
  2. What area of personal development would you like to focus on?
  3. What results would you like to get from our conversation?
  4. What would make this a great conversation for you?

#3. Personal:

A good relationship with the boss makes retention more likely and work more enjoyable.

Listen to stories. What happened over the weekend? What’s going on with the kids?

Share a story about your weekend or a recent experience.

Two goals of one-on-ones:

#1. Help employees develop. How do they want to develop and how might you contribute?

#2. Peak performance. Remember. Performance comes from strength, not weakness.

How do managers screwup one-on-ones?

Complete this sentence: Great one-on-ones are…

Bonus material: Get Better at One-on-One Meetings – HBR Video