Managers – Are You Talking Too Much in Your One-​on-​one Meetings?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Your regular one-​on-​one meetings with your team members can help everyone achieve their goals and work together as a group. Or, these encounters can turn into time-​wasting gripe sessions that hold a place on your calendar for no particular reason. If you want to improve the outcome of the time you spend with team members, check out the strategies summarized by Anita Bowness on CoachFederation​.org.

Prepare an Agenda

If you’re leading a meeting involving several participants, you typically prepare an agenda. To make the most of the time you spend alone with a team member, show her the same courtesy. These days, people have more work than they can handle. Show that you respect the work schedule by not wasting the time of someone who may be racing to meet a deadline you set. If you plan to discuss a specific report or issue in a meeting, share the information ahead of time so your team member can prepare.

Open-​Ended Questions

In old-​school business models, managers spoke, and employees listened. That top-​down management style is no longer effective in today’s business organizations. One problem you may run into when meeting with an employee is the sustained silence. Employees are waiting for you to bring up a topic or an issue. To fill this gap, think about the direction you’d like to see your team member go. Then ask an open-​ended question. For example, if you’re trying to set goals for the coming year, ask, “What would you do with an extra hour in the work day?” Refrain from interrupting while your team member is talking.

Active Listening

In addition to talking less during your one-​on-​one meetings, listen closely. It’s one thing to hear a team member talk about a problem. It’s another thing to use active listening to hear the problem. Maybe your team member has been talking about this problem for weeks and he's counting on you to fix it.

Repeat the problem in your own words so you can understand what’s going on. If you can’t offer a solution or recommendation on the spot, put the topic on your list of action items. For example, maybe your department can’t afford to invest in a new printer this year. Talk with another department to get temporary access to their printer. Then, be sure to get back to your employee.

Thoughtful interactions, especially those which require listening on your part, build trust over time and strengthen employee loyalty and commitment to your group and to the organization overall. Read Bowness’ other suggestions here.