Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using 1:1s to communicate with your employees

Editor’s note: In this post, we’re featuring a management technique that we use at Google, which might be useful at your business.

As a manager or the owner of a business, how often do you get to interact with your employees on an individual basis? With busy and conflicting schedules, it can be hard to find times outside of team meetings or performance evaluations to talk more generally to an employee.

To help make sure that employees always have an open channel of communication with managers, we have weekly 1:1s, which is a 30-minute block of time for a manager to meet with just one person. The purpose of 1:1s isn’t evaluation or getting assignments, although those might be outcomes. Instead, it should be an chance for an employee to share projects, questions, concerns, and anything else with his or her manager.

Because the intention of a 1:1 is to have easy communication across levels, the employee should be the person leading the meeting, not the manager. Employees should provide the agenda and direct the discussion, while managers should make sure to listen and provide constructive feedback. Here are a few other tips to get the most out of 1:1 time:
  • Prepare and share an agenda in advance to keep the meeting efficient.
  • Use a running document to keep your agenda and notes in to refer to later, and make sure both the employee and manager can edit it.
  • Discuss career development more broadly, and what skills you can gain at work outside of your core job.
If weekly 1:1s seems too often, try bi-weekly or maybe even monthly. You could also try scheduling a regular office hour on your calendar where employees can just drop in to talk. Does your business have another strategy that helps with communication? Share them with us on Google+ and tag #smbtips!

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