I Avoid Talking Work in One-on-Ones

Last week I shared the top 3 objectives of my 1x1s.  Today I want to expand on the concept of work topics in 1x1s.

It’s very common for managers to bring up work projects to catch up on things.  Without much effort, 1x1s become an extension of a team meeting, a strategy meeting, or a daily checkup.  This approach moves the focus away from the individual.  It focuses on what the manager wants instead of what the individual needs.

How do I make work a conduit for growth? 

Let Them Bring it up. Many times, my staff brought up work projects because I was very busy at other times.  At the time, I answered the questions and then tried to move on to a different subject.  Today, I look for learning opportunities:

  • How is the project working for you?
  • Is it challenging enough? What do you like about it?
  • What was your reasoning behind the solution?
  • How would you have done it if you had more time?
  • Would you like to train someone else to do it next time?

These are all questions to help learn about the individual while at the same time helping them learn about themselves.

Get Their Opinion. I’m a proponent of delegating problem solving responsibilities.  When dealing with a new team, I asked one of the returning analysts for help.  I had to train this team and make it functional very quickly.

  • How would you do it?
  • How would you structure the team?
  • What boundaries would be used? What would you focus on?
  • What challenges do you see?
  • How much time do you think we need?

This is an opportunity to allow the individual to play my role.  I helps develop their leadership style by practicing problem solving from a management perspective.

Celebrate Small Wins.  This is a good time to recognize tasks well done.  Appreciation is the best way to promote excellence.  Don’t be shy with it.

If you manager were to focus always on catching up on work items during 1x1s, how is that different from a regular team meeting?  What do you get out of it?



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