Learning to have effective one-on-one meetings with employees is crucial to becoming a successful leader. 

These meetings are your chance to connect with the people you work with, learn more about them, and set the stage for a trusting relationship. 

Sadly, many new managers don’t know how to utilize one-on-one meetings to their advantage, and they are doing themselves a disservice. 

I am going to outline five mistakes new managers make when it comes to one-on-one meetings with employees.

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5 Common 1-1 Meeting Mistakes

Mistake #1- Cancel and reschedule often or don't have 1-on-1 meetings

The number one mistake I encounter with the new managers I help is that they cancel, reschedule, or flat-out don’t have 1-on-1 meetings with employees. 

It is of the utmost importance that you have 1-on-1 meetings with your team members, and it is what will build a solid foundation of trust. Having a trusting relationship with your staff will help you have more influence over them to achieve much better results. 

If something comes up and you have a legitimate reason for cancelling, always reschedule, and don’t make it a habit. Habitually cancelling sends the message that your team is not important to you and makes you seem flaky. 

Mistake #2- Not having an agenda

A 1-on-1 meeting should not be rigid with you just sitting there checking off boxes as the meeting progresses. However, you do need to be well-prepared. Take notes, questions, whatever you have to make this an impactful and meaningful meeting. You should encourage the team member to be open and engage with you. 

Having a great conversation isn’t a fluke; it won’t just happen. You should want to have these meetings and show up prepared, in a good mood, and ready to engage with your team member.

Mistake #3- Treating 1-on-1 as a status update

The point of a 1-on-1 meeting is not to get a status update. It is meant to support your team members, build a connection with them, find out what their career goals are, and what they find engaging about their work. 

You can use programs that let your team members input status updates, like a Trello board or Notion, which is much more efficient than spending 30 to 60 minutes of your time finding that information out. 

Building relationships is what 1-on-1 meetings are all about. Not finding out the status of their work, there are more efficient ways to do that. 

Mistake #4- Not asking for feedback

I see a lot of managers making this mistake. Asking for feedback is so important. 

As someone in a leadership position, this is the perfect opportunity for you to learn, grow, develop, and become more self-aware of yourself as a leader. 

If your management style isn’t stellar, and your team members don’t feel comfortable telling you that what you are doing isn’t working, that is a problem. With that said, let’s be real here. It’s not likely that one of your staff will offer this information freely. 

Asking for honest feedback about how you come off as a manager and how they think you are doing can help you change what isn’t working or adjust to become a more effective leader. 

Just take a couple of moments at the end of the meeting and ask for feedback. What you are doing, aside from becoming more self-aware, is you are creating a culture of feedback. So as time goes on, your team members won’t feel scared to approach you about something because they know they can be open and honest. 

It also shows them that feedback isn’t bad, even if it isn’t always positive. If you are ready to receive negative feedback or hear that you are not doing as well at something you thought you were, it shows them that feedback is a positive thing. 

Mistake #5- No follow-up process

Not having a follow-up process can make 1-on-1 meetings seem a little pointless. If you discuss career goals and never speak of them again after the meeting, what was the point of even having that conversation?

After the meeting, there should be defined next steps so you both can walk away knowing what will happen next, what is expected of you, and when you need to accomplish these things by. 

Not following through after the meeting is a sure-fire way to break any trust you had built up between yourself and someone else. If you leave the 1-on-1 meeting and neither of you follows through on what you discussed, your trust will be broken. 

Having clear steps you both are going to do and being accountable for them will create a strong, trusting relationship that the other person can be counted on and follow through with what they said they would do. 

Conclusion

One-on-one meetings are so important to being a strong leader and should be taken seriously. 

If you are still hesitant or unsure how to have an impactful one-on-one meeting check out my New Manager Accelerator Program

I teach my students how to run 1-on-1 meetings and prepare for them, what to say, and how to follow up after the meeting. 

In the program, you will also be provided with systems and processes that will help you start out strong. Included are templates, a list of 67 questions that can be asked during a one-on-one meeting, and an agenda to help you hit the ground running. 

You will also learn a system to help you stay consistent with 1-on-1 meetings, so you are not cancelling or rescheduling all the time. 

This program truly is one of the best programs available for new managers. If you are interested in learning more about running successful 1-on-1 meetings or any other area you are struggling with as a new manager, send me a message, and let’s talk.