In this section, we'll be talking about the value of 1:1 Conversations to your organization. Each of the other chapters are broken down into separate articles, which are linked in the table of contents below.
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A 1:1 is defined as a meeting between a manager and his or her direct report, typically ranging from once per week to once per month, and with a duration of 30 to 60 minutes.
The meeting is held in private, and although structure varies greatly depending on individual needs, this is seen as a safe place for the employee to ask questions, discuss relationships with co-workers and express concerns. For those in the C-suite, it’s important that these meetings take place consistently across the organization, so concerns about the company’s direction can bubble up to where it can be addressed by leaders.
Effective 1:1s provide a great deal of value to employees, managers, and your company. Each person in your organization relies on feedback in order to improve. Annual reviews often fail to provide the feedback needed to enhance performance, and have been proven largely ineffective, with many large organizations eliminating them entirely.
With the annual review’s popularity in decline, the weekly or frequent 1:1 has become more important than ever. Every member of the organization experiences value over time from the regular 1:1. Even workers who enjoy lots of autonomy still need feedback. Sure, they rely on their own creativity for problem-solving, but the barriers they face will come from inside the organization in the form of red tape or access to another team needed for collaboration.
The structure of 1:1s allows employees to get a closer look at the challenges they are facing. Instead of correcting employee’s course of action, managers should come in as a partner and a coach helping to pave the way to success.
A weekly 1:1 is also one of the few avenues where employees can feel safe discussing career development with their manager. If the employee hopes to receive a promotion, it is helpful to break out the skills needed to move to the next level, and invest time in the weekly 1:1 into developing those skills and identifying relevant opportunities for growth. Employees should have the opportunity to discuss their personal objectives and see where those intersect with those of the company. A key component to motivating and engaging employees is connecting their contributions to the company’s success.
A manager is only as successful as his or her team. It is up to the manager to be a coach and help encourage the team to reach their full potential. Often managers are busy working on their own deliverables and their day-to-day management responsibilities slip. By structuring a weekly 1:1, managers can make sure they are taking the time to help nurture their team. 1:1s also give managers an opportunity to coach employees and develop an authentic and meaningful connection. Alternatively, in group settings, team members have to compete for airtime. The 1:1 meeting enables each team member to be heard and have their concerns and needs addressed.
Gallup research shows that managers are responsible for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that half of employees have left a job just to get away from their manager. When managers hold regular meetings with employees, their team members are 3X as likely to be engaged as those employees who don’t have regular check-in meetings.
*Six Facts About Employee-Manager Relationships
*The Best 1-on-1 Meeting Checklist
One of the most pervasive obstacles for successful teamwork is communication. 1:1s between team members can help dramatically improve communication. Structured and regular discussions can lead to more productive team dynamics, and help catch and resolve business issues quicker. However, having the right conversations might not be enough if those are not happening consistently. By encouraging team members to have recurrent 1:1s conversations you’ll be making sure critical topics are addressed in a timely manner.
For the Company
No other line item costs a company as much as its employees’ salaries. Replacing, rather than retaining these employees, costs even more. Not having a clear understanding of the company’s vision, a lack of transparency, and employees being unsure of whether their work is making a difference, are common drivers of employee attrition. These are all basic factors that leaders assume are being communicated company-wide, but so often teams or entire departments feel left in the dark, and thus become unmotivated.
1:1s are an effective way to ensure that information and knowledge are trickling down throughout the organization. On the flipside, leaders should also be aware of the information bubbling up. Sometimes, gossip or rumors in the lower ranks can inform the company on new opportunities, areas of improvement, and unforeseen threats.
Our research shows that regular, productive 1:1 meetings between employees and managers is paramount to the company’s success in retaining and growing top performers.