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How One On One Meetings Can Actually Prevent Interruptions

It is pretty typical for managers to say that there isn’t much time to get real work done between emails and meetings. But in this digital age, when people will send off an email rather than walk to a person’s office in the same building, face-to-face communication is still essential in the workplace. Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money,  says, “One-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager. “They are where you can ask strategic questions such as, are we focused on the right things? And from a rapport point of view, they are how you show employees that you value them and care about them.” 

If you are a manager, these are valuable meetings in which you can check on progress, learn about problems, and coach your employees on the projects they are dealing with. 

Regular meetings with the boss provide an opportunity for them to understand the organization’s philosophy and priorities better. It is also their chance to learn more about how their work fits in, and get advice on the job they are doing. 

But you need a strategy to make these meetings valuable. 

Even though everyone is busy, I believe in weekly one-on-one meetings with direct reports. They don’t have to be more than 30 minutes, and rarely more than an hour. Meetings keep everyone informed, and a lot can change in a week. 

Have an agenda. If you are the manager sett the agenda, make sure there is time to discuss each project that has been assigned.   Get agenda items from the person you are going to meet with.

Discuss what progress has been made?  

What help do they need? 

Reserve time to discuss ongoing priorities and goals. This could be a mix of assigned project priorities, organization priorities, or career improvement goals. 

Discuss accomplishments. Leaders should recognize the achievements of their workers, and this meeting is an excellent place to start.  

Discuss how current projects fit into the big picture of the organization. According to an Employee Engagement Report, less than 33% of employees feel valued at work. You might not know which of your workers fall into that category unless you ask them or tell them that they are important. 

Allow employees to discuss other items that may be on their minds. Leaders should listen. They don’t interrupt what an employee is trying to convey. You don’t always have to solve every problem because sometimes a staff member just wants to vent. But the manager should be prepared to receive honest feedback without getting defensive. 

Discuss future action items. You want to make sure that action items are noted and summarized in meeting notes. Those items get added to the next meeting’s agenda for follow-up. 

Weekly one-on-one meetings will also prevent any unnecessary interruptions during the week if staff members know that they have a set weekly time to meet. 

Leaders should demonstrate the importance of these sessions by scheduling them in advance and canceling them only in emergencies.  

If, after reading this, you still say, “I don’t have time for weekly meetings with my staff”, you may be managing too many people or aren’t delegating enough of your work to give you the time for something this important. 


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