Did you know that 85% of employees are not engaged – or downright disengaged at work? And that the most common reason for leaving a job is lack of appreciation, as stated by a whopping 79% of employees?
These statistics can seem discouraging – but there’s an antidote: Recognition from a manager is the number 1 thing that could inspire employees to stay motivated – and stop hunting for other opportunities on LinkedIn during lunch break. Implementing regular opportunities for positive feedback is thus key for employee retention.
So, how do we do it?
The answer: one-on-one meetings! A one-on-one meeting with a manager is a golden opportunity to spark enthusiasm, acknowledge great work, and exchange feedback. In this article, we’ll cover how to run effective one-on-one meetings with employees for you as the manager.
One-on-one meetings refer to when an employee has a private meeting with their manager – in person, or increasingly often with the rise of remote work, over video calls like Zoom. The aim is to check the status of ongoing projects, confirm the priorities and goals, assess motivation, and exchange feedback.
In fact, the most sought-after way to receive positive feedback for employees is not through a shoutout in the weekly company newsletter – but during a one-on-one meeting.
A one-on-one meeting is held more frequently than yearly performance evaluation meetings. The motivation for regular meetings is to keep motivation high and address issues almost before they arise – and for accountability and tracking progress on goals.
A manager typically hosts a one-on-one meeting weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Recent research shows that weekly meetings are the most common.
Employees who partake in weekly meetings are more likely to be highly engaged in their work. So if you have the capacity at your workplace, implementing weekly one-on-ones can be a strategic move and a way to strengthen relationships with your employees.
On a high level, a one-on-one meeting aims to increase employee retention. This is achieved through more motivated employees. Employees get motivated by feeling seen and appreciated for their efforts.
So as a manager, it’s key to help motivate your employees during a one-on-one meeting by providing positive feedback and supporting them in removing any roadblocks. Another way of encouraging your employees is to remind them of why the work matters: the company vision and values and how their individual efforts contribute to the fulfillment of those.
That said, one-on-one meetings are also the place for constructive feedback – in both directions.
One-on-one meetings can help managers:
Staying up-to-date with ongoing projects and getting a granular view of the daily work (that said, one-on-ones should be focused on the employee rather than the project – so some managers choose to leave this point to team meetings)
Redistributing workload to prevent burnout and overtime
Improving their leadership skills through employee feedback
Retaining employees by coaching and giving positive feedback
Employees may feel more comfortable being transparent with their manager in a one-on-one setting than in a team meeting or spontaneously reaching out. Other benefits:
Getting a motivational boost
Getting clarity on what’s expected of them
Feeling seen and included by the possibility to provide feedback
Having a platform to discuss pay raises or promotions
Receiving feedback to evolve in different areas
Giving feedback to their manager in a safe and intimate setting
Now that you understand the value and potential of one-on-ones to improve your team performance on the spot – without the need for new hires – the million-dollar question is: how do you become a master in leading one-on-ones?
While there is no right or wrong when hosting one-on-ones, coming prepared for the meeting is strongly encouraged. It helps you maximize your time together and have both you and your employees leave the meetings feeling energized, enthusiastic, and excited.
Strategies and templates aside, there are some key elements for a successful one-on-one meeting for which you as a manager are responsible.
Creating a psychologically safe environment
Giving and receiving feedback can feel vulnerable. You need to create a safe space to help your employees open up and share with honesty and authenticity.
Maximize benefits of one-on-ones
Make your employees look forward to your one-on-ones by starting and ending the meetings on a positive note. For example, start by asking what they are proud of since last week, or what went well. Wrap up the meeting by asking what their main takeaway was or what they most look forward to for the coming week.
Minimize preparation from employees
Things like having a set time and using the same Zoom link every week and an easily accessible meeting agenda with the same questions every week reduce the effort required from your employees. For example, live transcription with Airgram makes for more engaging one-on-ones and an automatically generated protocol to refer back to after the meeting.
The most important aspect of meaningful one-on-one meetings with your employees is that you listen. As the saying goes, we have one mouth and two ears – so aim to listen twice as much as you speak. There are other meeting settings where you get to share your expertise but a one-one-one is more conversational in nature.
If you follow the one-on-one meeting agenda template provided below and the tips listed above, you’re set for a successful meeting! To make things even easier, you can employ a meeting productivity software to animate your one-on-ones, stay more present, and save time.
Airgram is a holistic solution supporting you throughout the entire one-on-one meeting flow – from planning through hosting to following up in a few simple steps. To save time, make sure to enable auto join for Zoom in your Airgram settings. That way, you don’t need to do anything ahead of the meeting to get your one-on-one meeting recorded and transcribed.
A meeting invitation is more than a reminder – it sets the tone for the meeting. You want your one-on-one meeting invitation to be somewhat more informal than an official meeting – yet to the point. Why?
As one-on-one meetings involve giving and receiving feedback, it is vital to install a sense of safety already before the meeting begins. Writing the invitation in a more lighthearted way helps employees feel relaxed and ready for this somewhat more vulnerable meeting setting.
Of course, you can adapt this to your company’s level of formality. A startup may use more informal language than a bank. An invitation could look as follows:
Email subject: Be personal by using their first name – for example, “One-on-one meeting schedule for Darren”
I am delighted to invite you to our upcoming one-on-one meetings! These 30-minute meetings will take place weekly and allow us to cover:
Your feedback to me as your manager
The status and progress of ongoing projects
Any questions you may have
Guidance and direction for your personal and professional development
Execution of your long-term goals and vision
Self-assessment of your level of motivation and engagement
Remember – the central focus of these meetings is on how I can help you thrive to reach your goals, and we can grow together as a team. We will leave in-depth discussions of ongoing projects for other occasions, as well as performance evaluation that serves as the foundation for your compensation.
I will make sure to come well prepared to get the best out of these meetings, and I expect the same from you. Here’s a template I suggest we use ahead of each meeting. Feel free to provide feedback for improvements!
These meetings are collaborative, and I encourage you to actively engage and come up with suggestions, in alignment with StarOffice’s vision.
How does every Tuesday at 3 PM CET work for you?
Excited to get started – don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
Here’s an example of a one-on-one meeting agenda template you can use:
1. Intro/wellbeing questions
How do you experience the workload?
How would you rate your stress level on a scale 1 to 10?
Is there anything I can do as your manager to support you in feeling healthy?
2. Top of mind: Your highest priority to cover
3. Priorities since we last met: What have you been working on?
4. Priorities until the next meeting: Your main focus in the coming week
Main focus 1
Main focus 2
5. Things that went well
Mention at least one recent win or accomplishment that you’re proud of
6. Difficulties: What gets in your way and how you think I can help you out
7. Feedback: Recognition and suggestions for improvement
If you use Airgram, you can assign a timer to each section to make sure you stay on track and get the most out of the meeting.
As seen in the intro paragraph, one-on-one meetings can make or break employee retention. In this article, we have discussed how to run efficient one-on-ones that both managers and employees look forward to.
Using an all-inclusive tool like Airgram makes one-on-ones easier by taking out repetitive admin tasks from the equation, such as, for example, taking notes and assigning tasks to your employees. That way, you can save time for the things that truly matter and have employees look forward to their weekly one-on-ones!