Your one-on-one meeting with your boss is your most important work meeting. There are many reasons for this, but, crucially, your relationship with your boss has a significant influence on your happiness, engagement, and success at work. However, has your boss has been trained in how to have effective one on one meetings? For that matter, have you?
One-on-one meetings are one of those vital life skills that they just don’t teach in school. While it might seem like an intuitive skill, many underlying tricks and nuances can help you get the most out of your one-on-one meetings. As such, we’ll explain why one-on-one meetings are so important, before analysing the skills you need to make your one-on-one meetings count.
Hypercontext’s recent State of One-on-ones Report provides crucial insights into why one-on-one meetings are so important. After surveying more than 200 managers across 30 industries with 985 direct reports, they found that 94% of managers have regular one-on-one meetings, with 48.5% holding these meetings weekly.
The most common purpose of one-on-one meetings is to understand and eliminate roadblocks (70.4%), followed by a pulse check on how employees are feeling (60.7%), and status updates for specific projects (53.6%).
Further, those surveyed identified the following common topics that are discussed regularly in one-on-one meetings:
Additionally, most managers agree that devising a one-on-one meeting agenda should be a shared responsibility. 49% of managers say that both the manager and the employee should contribute to the one-on-one meeting agenda, while 15% say that they own the meeting agenda but wish their employees would.
Finally, the top three challenges that managers face during one-on-one meetings are: ensuring they’re providing value to direct reports (34%), getting direct reports to contribute to the agenda (22%), and having meaningful, productive conversations (17%).
These statistics send two clear messages. Firstly, one-on-one meetings are vital for everything from growth and development to performance and motivation, underscoring why they are your most important meeting. Secondly, many managers wish that employees would take more control of driving one-on-one meetings.
Below, we’ll explore how employees can do exactly that.
You can’t always leave it up to your boss to tell you what you need to know. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with your boss. It’s simply that they may be busy, distracted or — worst case — hasn’t received the proper training to manage employees.
Instead, take matters into your own hands by asking these essential questions in your next one-on-one meeting.
One of the most important steps to optimising your one-on-one meeting is checking in with your expectations. To get started, you might want to ask yourself some of the following questions:
Some bosses are great at developing their employees, while others, unfortunately, don't have a clue. Here are a few questions to ask your boss that will help you create a better future:
As Hypercontext’s report identified, alignment to the company’s mission is one of the most commonly discussed topics in one-on-one meetings. To ensure you’re aligned with your manager’s priorities, try asking the following during your next one-on-one meeting:
To do your job effectively and efficiently, you need access to a variety of tools and resources. If a lack of resources is blocking your progress, it’s important to bring this up in your one-on-one meeting. For instance:
These questions will show your boss that you're on their side and want to make a meaningful contribution.
These questions will also help you understand your boss better and build a better working relationship with your boss.
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