Effective and open communication is an essential element of being a good manager, and conducting regular one on one meetings with each of your direct reports is one of the most effective ways to keep the lines of communication open. Meeting with each member of your team for 30-60 minutes every 2-4 weeks can build trust, strengthen relationships and improve both individual and team performance.
There are many benefits to one on one employee meetings. Direct communication with each employee helps you gain insights into how your team members are handling their roles, responsibilities and interactions with fellow employees. Setting aside time on a recurring basis to allow your employees to express their thoughts and feelings can help you stay on top of issues and address potential problems while they are manageable.
In order to make the most of a one on one meeting, it is helpful to be prepared with a variety of potential topics and questions for quick reference. Sometimes a question will open the door to a specific issue of importance to your employee and lead to a deeper discussion. At other times you may need to ask more questions and follow up with probing comments such as “why do you feel that way” or “tell me more.”
Leadership consultant Jason Evanish has compiled a list of 101 Questions to Ask in One on Ones and organized them by categories that cover common workplace issues. Categories include short and long term goals, company improvement, self-improvement, manager improvement, team relations and work habits. Here are some examples of the kinds of questions that can facilitate a worthwhile and productive discussion.
- In what areas would you like to develop your skills or get additional training?
- What are you doing in your work here that is most in line with your long term goals?
- Do you feel like you’re on the same page with your fellow team members?
- How often do you think we need meetings to ensure that the team stays focused?
- How could we improve the ways our team works together?
- What are the biggest time wasters for you each week?
- How do you prefer to receive feedback? Do you feel you’re getting enough feedback?
- How can I better support you?
Evanish also suggests that you keep track of any items that need further discussion and hold yourself and your employees accountable for agreements that result from your meetings. Consistent follow through between one on one meetings will demonstrate your interest in your team and help build trust, loyalty and commitment to the work and the organization.