1:1 Meetings for Maximum Impact

One-on-one meetings are a crucial aspect of effective leadership and employee development. In this article, I share my approach I’ve taken for making the most of one-on-one time with my team members.

Putting Team member First:

This was an experiment I’ve tried to know what each of my team members preferred for their work styles, availability, or preferences in terms of when they would want to have one on one meetings and to my surprise it’s all over and this was contradictory to what I was expecting. But this helped me prioritize their schedule and preference and I was able to spread my 1:1’s according to their choice of slot in a day.

Preference of slot for One on One from Team members

How My Work Week Looks like?

For me what worked is to have my 1:1’s done early in the week as that’s what sets my weekly agenda and focus items from the discussions. They say for being agile, you move the needle, one week at a time and you won’t believe things change every week with the pace we go in my team. The other blocks are where my meetings with partner team, reviews, status meetings or all other manager work happens. This is also aligned with Paul Graham's suggestion around having separate schedules for Makers mindset vs managers mindset.

High Level - Weekly Schedule

Template I use for One-on-One Meeting:

This is a Notion template I use for my One on One and this is a shared page with my team member so that we’ve a single record that we keep over period. I don’t want to boast about the Notion features and capabilities (and not about the AI capabilities, that can summarize everything) as it’s a topic for another day, but this helps me organized ahead of the meeting for my action items and agenda that team members put together. Of course, not all team members fall in the same spectrum of leveraging this, but I’ve seen most of my team put the agenda items and bring up interesting topics for a fruitful discussion. This simple template was shared by Allie K Miller, and it makes things organized well.

As the team, scope, interactions with partners/stakeholders increases, it becomes more important to leverage digital tools which acts like your second brain and that's where this format comes into picture. Literally during my meetings, if something comes up which needs to be communicated to Person X, I always have Notion open and make an immediate note of it in Person X's page. Having such a tool helped me a lot to save ideas, thoughts and conversations at right places.

Notion Template

Real Conversation:

People remember their managers, talk about them at dinner table, social gatherings and managers have a lasting impact on how employees approach their work and achieve results.

My approach to life and work is centered around creating such a lasting impact and making a positive difference. You can achieve amazing things by building high-performing teams and foster strong relationships through one-on-ones and other collaborative efforts such as Demo (Show and Tell) and team building activities. By aligning team members around shared goals and objectives, we can create a powerful network that drives success and growth.

Few years back being an introvert, I used to think what would be there to talk for 30 mins. and at such a frequency. Over period I realized that it’s not enough and you still have a lot to discuss. People come as a whole person, not just what they have to do for work, their passions, little joys, experience they had over a vacation, family visits. The more you know about them, the more you appreciate what makes them who they are.

The book "Radical Candor" by Kim Scott discusses the importance of balancing empathy and challenge in our interactions with others, especially in the workplace. Using the "radical candor" framework we can guide our interactions: care personally, challenge directly, listen carefully, and respond thoughtfully. Be specific and actionable in our feedback and avoid vague or general comments. Prioritize building trust and rapport with team members, as this will make it easier to have difficult conversations. By balancing empathy and challenge, we can create a more positive and productive dynamic in our interactions.

Radical Candor

I do take sometime as well to seek feedback from team members to know about how I show up, things they want to see less of me in certain areas or more in some. Management is a right balance of science and art to tackle and One on one has been such a great tool to build high performing team and delivering amazing results.