One-on-one meeting agenda app, Soapbox, recently surveyed over 200 managers to learn how they conduct one-on-one meetings with their teams. Turns out, regardless of seniority, role or department, there were many common threads around how these managers approached one-on-one meetings.
Here’s a brief breakdown of some of the key findings:
Managers hold weekly one-on-ones
About one in two managers, 49%, have one-on-one meetings on a weekly basis, while 59% have them for 30 minutes. This was the most common occurrence found among survey respondents.
Having weekly meetings with employees helps to build rapport, trust and a continuous feedback loop. Of the 6% of managers that said they were NOT doing one-on-ones, the most common reason for not having them was lack of time or lack of perceived need.
Managers/employees share agenda
Another 49% of managers say they share responsibility with their direct report for what’s on the meeting agenda, while 15% say that they control the meeting agenda but wish their direct report would. One-on-one meetings aren’t for the benefit of the manager, but for the employee. It’s the manager’s job to create a safe space for their employees to feel comfortable sharing feedback and contributing to a two-way dialogue.
A full 70% of managers said that the goal of one-on-one meetings is to understand and eliminate roadblocks, while 61% said one-on-ones are for getting a pulse check and 54% said that the goal of their one-on-ones is a status update.
It’s easy to turn one-on-ones into status updates, discussing the progress of projects and getting into task-lists.
However, that’s not the real purpose of a one-on-one meeting. As Bronwyn Smith, VP of Business Operations at Influitive says, “If you are not careful, one-on-ones can end up being status updates. Or the manager can take over the meeting. This isn’t their purpose. It’s important to make sure the employee and their needs stay front and center.”
No. 1 goal: Provide value
About one in three managers, 34%, reported their biggest challenge with one-on-ones is ensuring they’re providing value to their direct reports, while 22% stated it was getting their direct reports to contribute to the meeting agenda. Three ways managers can ensure they’re providing value to their employees are:
- Prepare for the meeting by creating an agenda and revisiting past meeting notes.
- Create a psychologically safe environment where employees feel like they can speak freely and be heard.
- Ask meaningful questions that prompt feedback and a two-way dialogue.
To encourage employees to contribute to the agenda, it’s important that it’s not hidden in a notebook but accessible online.
Most don’t use meeting software
Four in ten managers, 41% reported using personal productivity tools for their agenda and notes in one-on-ones. Only 21% said they’re using purpose-built one-on-one meeting software. The benefit of having one-on-one meeting software means that all of your notes, follow-up and important information about your employees is in one shared space. It also makes it easier for employees to contribute to the meeting agenda and show up prepared.
Of the managers whose biggest challenge was having meaningful, productive conversations, 82% of these managers were not using one-on-one and team meeting software.
No. 1 topic: Growth & development
Three in four managers, 75%, said that they discuss growth and development in their one-on-ones. Only 23% stated that they discuss alignment to company mission. There’s tremendous value in creating a line between the work employees are doing and how it connects to the larger company mission.
According to a study conducted by Gallup, 59% of employees don’t know what their company stands for. Research from Imperative shows that when employees align to their companies purpose, they stay with the company longer and are happier in their roles. Easily discuss this in one-on-ones with your team by adding a recurring agenda point for reiterating the company mission and vision like “Here’s how your work this past ‘x’ is getting us close to our company vision.”
One-on-one meetings can very quickly become a waste of time for both the manager and the employee. This survey outlines, from a manager’s perspective, where the challenges lie and shows the commonalities in various different manager’s approach to one-on-ones.