Holding frequent 1:1 meetings with your team members is an effective way to build deep relationships, increase engagement, and solve problems all at once. However, when calendars begin to fill up and managers feel overwhelmed, one of the most common activities that is cancelled to free up more time is 1:1 meetings. It may seem like an insignificant decision with limited consequences, but cancelling 1:1 meetings can deprive managers of many strategic meeting benefits:
- Show you care—Sitting down face-to-face with a team member and giving them your full attention signals that they are important. You value their thoughts, impact, and performance. Time is a precious commodity, and setting aside time for one person makes a far-reaching statement.
- Know your people better—Whether you prefer structured or unstructured 1:1 meetings, naturally there will be at least a few minutes of small talk. Those few minutes can turn into important revelations about the person’s hobbies, passions, challenges, family, etc. These little kernels of knowledge grow over time and evolve into a more meaningful relationship. Engagement and tenure among employees who feel connected with their manager are significantly stronger than those who only have a working relationship.
- Solve problems quickly—Through the course of frequent 1:1 meetings, employees become more comfortable bringing the most recent and most frustrating challenges to your attention. This is an opportunity to engage in swift problem-solving to eliminate the problem before it grows into a larger one.
- Avoid surprises—When 1:1 meetings are frequent, very little time passes between meetings, and communication is more consistent. Fewer items slip through the cracks and leaders are less likely to experience surprises or information that arrives too late for action/resolution. Effective 1:1 meetings are ideal for checking the pulse of team member’s satisfaction and morale. Spot problems and make adjustments before it’s too late.
- Give and get feedback—Having consistent 1:1 meetings is important, but making them meaningful by focusing on giving and accepting open feedback ensures everyone is on the same page, and progress is more likely to stay on track.
- Coach and develop—To maximize the impact of 1:1 meetings, devote a portion of the meeting to coaching and developing the employee. Making this part of regular communications will rapidly accelerate the pace of the individual’s growth, and increase their performance and engagement long into the future.