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How to have effective 1:1 meetings with your employees

Regular employee feedback can really help drive engagement. That shouldn't come as much of a shock to you, particularly if you read this blog from time to time. Feedback helps your employees to better understand their roles and eliminate barriers to performance that may be creating stress and anxiety. 

But feedback requires clear and consistent communication in order to be effective. 

Effective 1:1 meetings are a vital part of this, but if the feedback process begins and ends in an annual review meeting, it won't be consistent or timely enough to make a difference. 

So today, we're discussing how to establish an effective communication framework to ensure you and your employees both get the most out of your 1:1 meetings.

Emphasise your employee's personal development

If you took one thing away from our 2020 list of engagement stats, it should be that emphasising personal development is absolutely the way forward. It's easy for staff to dread your one-to-one meetings if they're all about what the business gets from the employee. But if they're used as an opportunity to help employees organise their personal growth, then these appraisals can actually become something for them to look forward to. If your employees feel like you have their long-term wellbeing in mind, they're much more likely to give you their best effort and be receptive to your advice.

Employees want feedback, but hate annual performance reviews

Feedback is a major priority for working professionals. This is often attributed to Gen Z and millennials, and while the newest generations are often drivers of change in the workplace, it would be a pretty sweeping generalisation to say they're the only ones interested in getting useful, consistent feedback from their managers.

On the other hand, old-fashioned annual performance reviews are widely disliked and generally considered to be pretty out-dated. But that's not to say one-to-one meetings to review performance aren't important or don't have purpose. The issue with them arises when they're used in isolation.

If you need to know how to have effective 1:1 meetings with your team, look no further.

You need on-going feedback between one-to-one meetings

One-to-ones are great, but just like any other kind of meeting, too many can get in the way of a manager's other responsibilities. Effective one-to-ones need a certain level of preparation that can be incredibly time-consuming. The problem with having occasional one-to-one meetings as your only system of feedback means that they create a sense of ambiguity for your employees. 

They depend on the meeting to find out how they're doing, and go into it not knowing if they're about to be raked across the coals. You might be planning to congratulate them on their stellar performance, but privately, the employee is playing every mistake or awkward moment back in their head.

It's important to have a system of feedback running between these one-to-ones to ensure that it's given in a timely manner. Not only does this mean that employees can take feedback on-board immediately, when it's relevant, but it also takes a lot of the prep-work out of those one-to-ones. A good on-going feedback system means you'll have access to all the previous updates for that employee.

But what do we mean by a good on-going feedback system? Well"¦

Get the most out of your one-to-one meetings with asynchronous check-ins

We've talked about asynchronous communication in terms of it's useful to remote work before, but it also has value for its ability to streamline tasks like giving week-to-week feedback. Using an asynchronous check-in means managers and employees can exchange and review feedback without having to go to the trouble of setting up a meeting. 

While applications like Teams or Slack are great for communication, trying to conduct wellbeing and performance updates through them would get a bit long in the tooth. After so many regular update posts and feedback responses, it can be difficult to trawl back through during one-to-one meetings. On top of that, just messaging about it doesn't give you an easy way of compiling and utilising any practical information you might be able to get.

That's why Weekly10's check-in system is the foundation of our employee engagement platform. Check-in updates take just a few minutes on either end, and let managers provide employees with a totally customisable set of personalised questions. There are several different question types that function differently to give you a range of qualitative and quantitative data.

Managers can also review the answer history to each question, have sentiment analysis compiled into bespoke reports, and get new questions suggested by our AI, based on sentiment analysis. But while checking in is an efficient way to bridge the gap between one-to-one meetings, regularity isn't the only issue employees can have with their appraisal process.

Knowing how to have effective 1:1 meetings is essential for maximising the impact of all your performance management processes.

Employee appraisal should be as transparent as possible

It's not only important to ensure that appraisal and feedback be conducted as fairly as possible, but also that employees be able to see that this is the case. McKinsey & Company specified three criteria for being perceived as fair by employees:

  • Link employee goals to business targets, but do so flexibly.
  • Invest in developing your managers' coaching skills so they can more fairly manage day-to-day conflict.
  • Reward individuals with outstanding performance, but also reward "˜converging performance' (i.e. effective teamwork).

McKinsey's research found that 84% of employees at companies that met these three criteria agreed that they had an effective performance management system. They were even a dozen times more likely to report positive results than respondents at a company that didn't implement any of the three criteria.

Remote employees can also benefit from the one-to-one experience

A major section of this article highlighted the value of asynchronous communication as a tool for supplementing one-to-one meetings. But given that remote work and asynchronous tools go hand in hand, we'd like to take a different tack.

While a lot of remote work is performed asynchronously, we instead want to highlight how the face-to-face element of one-to-one appraisal is of particular importance to remote workers. How clearly an employee sees the connection between their work and their organisation's objectives can play a huge role in engagement.

So while it might be tempting to make the appraisals of your remote employees completely asynchronous, it's worth jumping on Microsoft Teams, and emulating that one-to-one experience with a video call. Ensuring you still have these face-to-face interactions with remote staff can make the difference in their sense of inclusion and connection to the business. While you might be having weekly stand-ups with your remote team anyway, making the time for these direct one-to-ones is the best way to show that their personal development matters to you.

For more information on one-to-one meetings, as well as other aspects of employee appraisal and engagement, visit the Weekly10 blog today.

Want to ensure your next 1:1 is evidence-based, transparent and highly effective? Check out the employee check-in from Weekly10: