Do you have a short, sharp weekly check-in with each of your direct reports? I do, and I could not imagine managing others without doing something along these lines. What works for me is; keeping it regular e.g. weekly, following a consistent format i.e. a set structure, process, time, location, and making it a two-way conversation with both I and my direct reports bringing topics to discusss at the meeting.
Specifically, I like to use a Trello board for each of my direct reports to capture discussion topics in an easy format where both parties can prepare in advance, and track conversations over time. See this template – https://trello.com/templates/team-management/1-on-1-meeting-agenda-FoIwUPz2
Within that board, I like to keep a list containing both current priorities that we review each week, and longer term (e.g. annual) objectives that we look at periodically as part of each person’s ongoing development plan.
Whilst I don’t necessarily reference giving feedback as a formal part of the 1:1 structure, I do try to ensure that in each weekly discussion I provide feedback to them in some way, and solicit feedback from them about myself and my performance in my role. Normally I would do this as part of general conversation, or link it to a specific topic we are discussing.
The main benefits of regular 1:1 meetings is that it’s an opportunity to stay aligned with each other on the 3 P’s:
- priorities – what is the most important work we are doing
- progress – how are we progressing with this work
- performance – how are we both going in our roles, in relation to each other
More broadly, it’s also a good forum to gauge other indicators, like motivation, workload, and stress levels, answer any questions, and otherwise just build a healthy working relationship of trust and transparency with each other.
Beyond these practical management reasons, I’ve also found it be to be effective way to manage our time. Rather than a dozen short conversations or email/message threads spread through the week about various non-critical, non-urgent issues, a regular 1:1 provides a forum to discuss all these issues in a batched, focussed way. Batching small conversations together means that we free up more of our time during the week for focussed, deep work. Reserving the weeklyr 1:1 forum for any non-urgent conversations means we avoid distracting each other during the week unnecessarily.