Topics for your next 1:1 with your direct reports

Ben Parkison
Ben Parkison
November 17, 2022
Topics for your next 1:1 with your direct reports

Communication is the foundation for building up an awesome team. Establishing a regular 1:1 with your direct reports is more than just a chance to hand down tasks, it’s a prime opportunity to connect -- on a personal level, as two parts of the team, and as a representative of the company as a whole. Let’s break down why this small meeting is so mighty: 

Make Time - In order for a 1:1 to really be effective, you need to actually have one. Fight the urge to cancel despite workloads being slow or heavy; in fact, both of those times are exactly when you should be meeting face to face with your reports. 

Express Gratitude - Praise breeds passion. And appreciation in private hits different than larger call outs. No achievement is too small either, so dig into their work since your last meeting. 

Allow Space for Conversation - Open communication means talk goes both ways. Regardless of your roles, you're both adults with shared team objectives ahead. Provide this time as a breather for your team member to openly reflect, building trust between you. 

“How are you?” - Set the tone for an informal conversation. No, you don’t need to become besties, but get to know their goals and interests, discuss the latest office news, and let them know how you’re doing as well. 

“How do you like to work?” - Employees are not one-size-fits-all, and to truly know if they’re a round or square peg, you gotta ask. Bring out the best in your team by getting curious. Having an understanding of what makes them tick enables you to serve them better. 

How can I help?” - Yes, you are there to both lead and serve. Imagine your team as a garden: growth requires much more than simply planting seeds. You need to continue cultivating and using your tool shed to see the fruits of your team’s labor, so roll up your own sleeves. 

“Test it out!” - Bust out the pom-poms! Okay maybe not literally, but do be your reports’ biggest cheerleader. Empower their ideas, allow independent planning, and encourage collaboration. 

“Try this instead…” - Of course, 1:1s are also the time to bring up areas of improvement. Leverage your unique experience and perspective to be a mentor, leading team members toward their success. Guidance goes a lot further than chastisement.

“We’re in this together” - Reinforce the notion you’re there for them and your shared success. Show up for your reports and they’ll show up for you. You’re far from an absentee manager, and upholding regular 1:1s is an achievable step to proving it. 

As team manager, you have one of the most impactful jobs in your organization. Much of your role is teasing out the best of your team and working within them -- not outside of -- becoming larger than the sum of your parts. Approach your 1:1s as a maintenance tool of this excellence.

Ready to level up your manager game?

Try now with your next team meeting

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