- 1:1s should be oriented to the needs of the employee, not manager
- Keep project updates out of 1:1s
- Use the check-ins page and filter to just that employee to help identify topics to discuss and work that deserves appreciation — the summary view can be especially helpful here
At Range, we agree with the prevailing wisdom that 1:1s should be employee focused and employee led, but we understand the need for managers to get deeper insights into what’s been happening and how projects are going. So we suggest a middle-ground approach. Especially as work-oriented inquiry can provide a good coaching opportunity where you can discuss risks, priorities, and how your reports’ work relates to your company strategy.
Ten minutes before your 1:1 — or first thing in the morning, if your calendar is a wall of meetings. Head on over to Range, navigate to the check-ins page, and filter to see check-ins from just the employee. Read through their recent check-ins to refresh your memory on what they’ve been doing since your last meeting. Take notes of things you want to discuss in-person:
- Do they seem stuck? Leaving items in the plan for multiple days can be a cognitive burden and can indicate that someone needs help.
- Are they able to focus? Having too many parallel work streams or being dominated by interrupt work can make it hard to focus. Maybe there are things you can take off their plate or get them help with.
- Are there things they should do less of? You don’t know everything your team is doing, and that’s a good thing, but sometimes priorities shift and it’s necessary to re-align your team’s attention.
- Are there things they should do more of? Positive feedback is more effective than negative feedback, so always try to identify good work your reports are doing. Examples include: taking initiative, collaborating well with teammates, coming up with novel solutions to problems. The "Highlights" card in the summary view is great for seeing what other people appreciate.
- And most importantly, Do they seem ok? Look at their moods for the last week and see if they seem sick, stressed, or sad? Does their stated mood resonate with the tone of other updates or how they’ve been acting elsewhere? Catching things early makes them easier to fix, so be prepared to dedicate a whole 1:1 to understanding an issue and coming up with a resolution together. Maybe they need a vacation, a change in project, help managing their calendar, or more support in their work.
Start the meeting with some open questions. Feel things out. Keep it simple. And remember, silence is ok.
“How are you doing?”
“Happy with how things are going?:”
“Are you feeling effective this week?”
See if there’s anything on their agenda that you should prioritize.
“And what do you want to talk about this week?”
If there’s nothing that you expect to take the whole meeting, let them know there’s something you want to talk about too:
“I’d also like to check in on how / what / whether __________.”
Then work through the agenda. Ask questions. Try to listen more than you talk.
Every few 1:1s try and make space for one of the following questions at the end
“Is there anything you’re unsure about that I can help with?”
“Is there anyone you’re worried about?
“Do you have any feedback for me?”
More reading on effective one on ones: