If you feel your weekly one-on-one meetings are falling into a rut of reviewing the same old topics, it may be time to change things up. Kevin Eikenberry recently discussed team member meetings in a blog post and encouraged readers to take the initiative to make improvements.

The Two-Way Street

If you’re doing too much of the talking in these meetings, you’ll never learn what’s really on the mind of your employee. Resolve to talk less. Give your team member the heads-up that you expect him to carry the conversation the next time you talk. Remind him that you’ll want an update on all the action review the items currently on his plate. Then, stick to your word. Open the meeting with a few pleasantries, and shift to his list. Ask him to review the status of each item. Listen carefully and withhold your comments until he’s done. You’ll get a sense of how he’s doing on each task and which ones are the most challenging for him. His intonation and the length of time he spends reviewing tasks will allow you to figure out which ones he enjoys versus those he might be having trouble with.

Feedback Loop

Before you’re tempted to start giving advice on how you’d tackle a specific challenge or problem, ask questions. The employee might have a good idea about how he’d like to get improve a workflow process, but he might also be a little wary of sharing his thoughts with you. When you take time to draw him out, you’ll learn about how he thinks and may even discover he’s a genius with unique ideas that can benefit the company. Asking questions also encourages everyone to think creatively about how to solve problems. If they aren’t able to develop solutions on their own, the strategy  of close questioning will teach them to learn to think for themselves.

Customization

You may prefer to hold your one-on-one meetings at the same time and location every week. While some folks appreciate routine, sameness does not encourage creativity. If you’re struggling to make a connection with any of your team members, change the meeting time and location. Suggest taking a power walk instead of sitting at a desk. Offer to buy her a cup of coffee at the shop around the corner. The change in venue and routine may be just what’s needed to help both of you think of new ways to solve a challenging problem.