The One-on-One Meeting

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

 - Albert Schweitzer

One of the very first things that you need to do is to understand and know each of your Teamers. What are their goals, values, skills, wants, needs and potential contributions to the success of your team and the Organization, as well as for their career?

Start having regular meetings with all of your Teamers. The frequency is up to your working relationship with each Teamer. Once a week is best to start out with, but some folks will only need to get with you every other week or even once a month. The frequency will depend on the person, their assignments, your understanding of their needs and your overall working relationship with them. But make sure that these meetings are habitual that is “every Tuesday at 10:00 o’clock.” Depending on the number of Teamers that you have you will need to reserve blocks of time during your workweek. I suggest reserving an entire morning or afternoon for these sessions. You’ll get into the One-on-One “groove!”

Make sure that this is not viewed as an adversarial meeting or a gotcha session due to the name. It is to help the two of you get to know one another better. This should be a special time spent together. Spend your time wisely with your Teamers. Make it a positive time together. You should have only two goals for the One-on-One meeting:

  • Help your Teamer feel better about you, themselves and the Organization.
  • Help you understand them and their needs, wants, dreams and concerns so that you can help them work in the “flow” as much as possible.

You and your Teamer should prepare a written agenda for each One-on-One meeting. Keep each One-on-One to no longer than a half hour. If you need more time, set up another session.

Sometimes you “inherit” Teamers through reorganization and you don’t know these folks as well as those that you have hired. The One-on-One meeting is an excellent way to “get to know” new Teamers. I’ve “inherited” lots of new Teamers over my years as a Middle, usually through budget and staff cuts and reorganization, and the One-on-One meeting helps these new folks feel more comfortable working with you now, rather than old “what’s his name” (you!) that they’ve heard all about though the “grapevine.” Your goals are to get to know them and to get rid of their concerns and problems with the “transition.” Empower them by knowing them to help them work in the “flow!”

Some suggested agenda items for One-on-One meetings would be at least these topics:

  • Accomplishments during past time period
  • Goals for next time period
  • Problems or Concerns
  • Training opportunities
  • Other general “stuff”

Your goal must also be for your Teamers to walk away with a positive feeling about your meeting including the following:

  • They are in a comfort zone and can freely express themselves. There is trust and honesty present in each meeting.
  • You work on what needs to be done – direction!!
  • Make needed decisions. Stop tangent thinking and the paralysis-by-analysis syndrome.
  • Have them feel that you really care about them, their work and their overall success and that of the team and the Organization.
  • Address any problems or concerns they have.

It is your job as the Middle to do everything that you can do to create the best possible meeting environment. Ask them how their One-on-One meetings can be more effective and how you can be a better leader for them. Then listen and do what you can to address their ideas and suggestions.

I want to thank Senior Tom for being the first to ever have a One-on-One meeting with me and teaching me what these times could be. He taught me a lot and was one of the best Seniors that I ever worked with.

“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”

- Abraham Lincoln