Do you run regular one-on-one meetings with​ your team members?​

You know the one-on-one is literally one of the best tools that you have as a leader to:

Maintain alignment

Increase productivity

Clarify goals

Coach for performance

Strengthen relationships​

And so because of the benefits, it’s important that you are running this 30-60 min meeting that you have as effectively as possible.

In today’s episode of MakTV, I’m sharing 5 of the most common mistakes that managers make when they are conducting their 1-1’s. I’ll also be sharing what you should do instead in case you are accidentally making one of these errors.

Would you prefer to read rather than watch? Not to worry! You can read the blog post below.

But first, to really help you stand out in your new role I highly recommend downloading The Ultimate Guide to Being an Effective Team Leader.  A free downloadable interactive guide to help you show up and stand out and take the right action steps.

#1 MISTAKE MANAGERS MAKE IN THEIR ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS WITH EMPLOYEES - They Cancel, Reschedule or Avoid the Meeting

Couple weeks ago I jumped on a strategy call with a manager who was having troubles with connecting and building relationships with his team members and this resulted in them just not trusting or respecting him as the leader. 

When I asked him about his 1-1 meetings he looked at me kind of blank because he hadn’t been doing them. 

He said ‘well my manager doesn’t do 1-1 with me so I didn’t know that this is important’. 

I’m here to tell you… it’s important. 

You see one-on-one meetings when done the right way help you to foster a relationship, which builds trust which builds influence. As a manager your ability to influence the people you work with to achieve fantastic results is really important. 

How do you expect to do that with people you don’t really know or understand?

Secondly, once you schedule them, don’t cancel or reschedule constantly. 

Yes things will come up, but for the most part you should be consistent at this because cancelling constantly sends a very clear message to your team members that their work is not important to you or that you don’t value their perspective on matters. 

Anything that you don’t give priority to is in actuality something that isn’t important to you. 

If you continue to cancel and reschedule this time with them you are in effect saying – this isn’t important to me. 

#2 MISTAKE MANAGERS MAKE IN THEIR ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS WITH EMPLOYEES - Not having an agenda which results in not being prepared

A 1-1 meeting shouldn’t just be a checkbox item that you do because someone told you you’re supposed to do it. 

It’s something that you should pour into like you would for any other meeting. 

That means having a clear agenda and collaborating with your team members on what’s going to be considered in this meeting. 

Use a template or create a doc  that they can fill out ahead of time. Get your questions prepared and track your one on one’s in one place so that you can use the notes from the previous meeting as a jumping off point. 

I help my students do exactly this in The New Manager Accelerator Program where I walk them through start to finish how to prepare for, run and follow up with their one on one meetings so that it’s effective. 

I provide tested templates and documents and questions that you can use so that you don’t have to create this stuff from scratch but rely on a system that already works. 

#3 MISTAKE MANAGERS MAKE IN THEIR ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS WITH EMPLOYEES - Treating the meeting as a status update

For clarity sake let me make something super clear, a one on one meeting is not a status update. 

It is a meeting to get to know your team members and support them in the work that they do.

 If you want a status update, maybe open up a trello account or notion account where they can tick off things as they go along. 

This meeting is not meant for that. In fact, it would be a complete waste of time for you to sit there and talk about stuff that you can get from another source automatically. 

Use the meeting to talk about challenges, career goals, their general engagement and motivation as well as priorities. 

That is what a one on one meeting is for you supporting the people doing the work, not the work itself. 

#4 MISTAKE MANAGERS MAKE IN THEIR ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS WITH EMPLOYEES - Not asking for feedback 

Listen, in order for you to grow, learn and develop and become more self aware you need feedback. 

The best people to get the feedback from are the people that are directly affected by you and your management style. 

Ask them what they think and devote a couple minutes each meeting to ask them for feedback. 

Might this be a little awkward at the beginning? Absolutely! And because of power dynamics and depending on the environment you have created it might be a little rocky at the beginning. But the more you make it part of your routine the better and easier it becomes for your team members to give you honest candid feedback and the easier it gets on you to accept it as a gift.

#5 MISTAKE MANAGERS MAKE IN THEIR ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS WITH EMPLOYEES - Not having a follow up process 

What good is it to have a bomb discussion on career goals if nothing happens afterwards? 

There should always be some sort of next steps and clarity given so that everyone knows what happens after the meeting. Otherwise confusion on who does what by when and how will definitely cause problems if not right away later down the road. 

Make sure you have a system for follow up.