As a manager, you know the importance of getting your team together for a meeting from time to time to connect and ensure that everybody is on the same page. However, there are some things that you need to know about your employees that they don't necessarily feel comfortable sharing in a group meeting. Therefore, it is important to occasionally have a one-on-one meeting with each of your employees so that you can get to know them as individuals and start building trust with them. Here are some tips to help make these meetings successful.
1. Set Time/Place & Have Agenda
Talk to each employee to choose a time for your face-to-face meeting that works for both of you. This is important because canceling the meeting at the last minute sends a terrible message to your employee. Once you find a time that works, this should be a standing appointment. You and your employee can determine how often you need these meetings.
You want your employee to feel comfortable opening up to you and engaging in a discussion. Meeting in your office may intimidate employees, which is counterproductive. It may help to find a more informal place to meet — neutral territory, as it were. On the other hand, you should choose a quiet area with little chance that other employees can eavesdrop.
Of course, all of this assumes that the meeting is in person. If you have a remote team, a meeting like this may occur online. In this case, meeting in your office may be more appropriate, and you can always change the background if you think the setting may be intimidating.
Once you arrange the place and schedule the meeting, decide what you will talk about. You don't need a detailed one-on-one meeting template, but you should have a list of topics you want to discuss, so you don't forget anything.
2. Be Present & Share Goals
When you ask for a meeting with an employee, that person should receive your undivided attention. Turn off your phone and eliminate anything else that may distract you during the meeting.
Share the purpose of the meeting with your employee before the meeting. Provide an idea of what you intend to discuss and decide with your employee what goals you want to achieve.
3. Share/Ask For Feedback
Most of the feedback employees get from managers is negative rather than positive. Even if it is constructive, employees hear more about what they are doing wrong and very little about what they are doing right. Yet research consistently shows that people are more likely to repeat good behavior for which they receive positive reinforcement. Therefore, look specifically for good things each employee has done so you can start each meeting positively with praise.
The feedback should be a two-way street. Before a one-on-one meeting with the manager, ask employees to come up with things they like about the company and things they feel need improvement.
4. Share Notes & Follow Up
Suppose you can provide an outline of what you discussed at each meeting, including any conclusions you and your employee reached during the discussion. In that case, it can help reinforce the conversation, so your employee remembers it later. If you know that your employee took notes, you can ask for a copy, but handle this delicately, as it might seem like a mild reprimand if your employee didn't take notes.
Ask your employee about progress toward the goals you set during the meeting. Keep touching base regularly to keep the lines of communication open.