The One-on-One Meeting:
Policy and Preparation

Open-Door-PolicyAs a leader, is the one-on-one meeting a regular part of your administrative policy? How is it perceived?

If one-on-one meetings are not a significant part of your leadership portfolio, they should be (read my previous post, here.) As a welcome component of your leadership process, one-on-one meetings are not a sign of trouble or concern, rather, they signal that you are an engaged leader.

Communication is key. Be clear that everyone gets to have a one-on-one with you. No one is placed in a dubious category by meeting with the leader privately. Making the meetings a positive aspect of your team process eliminates the fear or awkwardness when calling them.

Stress the importance and benefit of this tool to your staff. The team operates at a higher level and each person’s job is more rewarding. Everyone will appreciate it.

Make it clear that the policy works both ways. Your door is open to those who want to talk. Any subject is fair game. If you aren’t available at request, make sure you schedule a time as soon as possible. You’ll build trust and respect by attending to your people’s needs.

One-on-One Meeting Planning

The one-on-one is a special kind of meeting, and due to its nature, must be conducted with special regard. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss how it is a personal appointment designed to benefit both a working and personal relationship; therefore, it’s customized for the circumstances.

Choose a setting appropriate for the individual. Your office may be best, or if you’re working with a lower level manager, their office. Another room or area on the campus may work well. Wherever it is, your attention needs to be undivided and focused on your employee to attain an effective level of trust—both ways.

Scheduling the meeting in advance signals your employee that you value their time and attention, and it allows you to secure the proper setting.

Plan an agenda ahead of time, and stick to it to cover the needed topics. Respect the employee’s time by keeping the conversation relevant and work related. Chitchat should be minimal: a groundbreaker only.

For duty-related topics, share the agenda in time to allow the employee to prepare. You may want some materials that take time to assemble, or you may want a decision that requires some careful thought.

However, a discussion over a troubling personal issue generally does not benefit from a pre-announced agenda. In this case an advanced notice can cause misunderstanding and undo stress. Conversely, unplanned discussions about the employee’s performance or personal issues can feel like a surprise attack. Weigh these factors carefully.

What do you think? Do you have a policy on one-on-one meetings? What other ways do you prepare for the meetings? I’d love to hear from you.  Give me a call, 704-827-4474. Or, you can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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