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Three Tips for Effective One-on-One Meetings

December 7, 2020

As the year is winding down and the world is anxious to put 2020 in the rearview mirror and look forward to the future, one thing is certain that this year has brought many challenges upon us. During these difficult times it is more important for managers and employers to lean in and support their teams. And it starts with effective communications.

One of the most powerful communication tools available to managers is the one-on-one meeting, whether held virtually or in-person. And especially during critical periods. In fact, according to a recent live poll held at TriNet’s inaugural PeopleForce 91% of respondents think employee communication should increase during a crisis.

Spending 30 minutes on a regular basis connecting individually with your direct reports plays a crucial role in keeping employees engaged, motivated and hopeful about their future in your organization. These meetings also provide an opportunity to connect with your employees on a personal level and offer support when needed, particularly during a crisis.

According to Gallup Panel data “from June 8-14 show that U.S. employees and managers are about 20% less likely than they were in May 2020 to strongly agree that:

  • they feel well prepared to do their job
  • their employer has communicated a clear plan of action in response to COVID-19
  • their immediate supervisor keeps them informed about what's going on in their organization
  • their organization cares about their overall wellbeing”

The strategies you use during your one-on-one meetings, whether virtually or in person, serve as a barometer of your employee’s performance and well-being. Let’s look at three influential strategies to make your one-on-one meetings more meaningful and valuable to both your employees and your company.

Move Beyond Metrics:

Consider what you want to accomplish. Reviewing work goals, metrics and performance are a standard part of one-on-one meetings, but the most effective meetings build trust and engagement through dialogue. Consider how you can make your meetings more meaningful and valuable by:

  • Asking employees for input on department issues and goals.
  • Asking employees what skills they’d like to acquire and what projects they’d like to participate in.
  • Showing appreciation for accomplishments, teamwork, and ideas.
  • Using the time to discover what’s important to the employee and looking for ways to align the employee’s goals with those of the organization.


Make A Personal Connection:

Ask open-ended questions and encourage employees to come to you with any concerns. Look and listen for changes in the employee’s performance, communication style, or overall demeanor. Your willingness to listen and paying attention to the needs of your employees can result in catching issues which may ultimately affect their performance.

Invest Time:

Expect that one-on-ones may take more time than usual. Employees can tell if you are in a hurry. If you are, propose scheduling another meeting. Actively listen and offer sincere and thoughtful responses. Allowing ample time to get through both work and personal issues shows employees that you are there to help and are invested in their success.

Instilling your company’s values begins with the manager-employee relationship. The time and thought invested in one-on-one meetings will provide an opportunity to lead with empathy which will create a lasting impact and be valued by your employees and your teams.

By Jeanne Erichson

Human Resources Consultant - HR Center of Expertise, TriNet

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