Every Friday. 8:30am. 30 minutes max.
That’s what I asked of my new manager, when my one manager left for another project.
When I started working for the new boss, that’s what I needed in order to stay on top of things. To enable efficiency. To be proactive.
A structured time and place for me to check in with him.
That doesn’t mean I am strictly rigid about making sure we were holding our one-on-ones every single Friday at 8:30am.
Nope. You have to be flexible with your time, willing to reschedule, given the demands of the job. However . . . we rarely cancel our 1:1. We reschedule instead.
And therein lies the key.
If it’s not on the calendar, it likely won’t happen. So make sure it stays on the calendar, somewhere, sometime.
If I have to push our meeting to the afternoon; no big deal. If one of us are not in the office Friday, I reschedule our meeting to Thursday, or even Wednesday if need be. My golden rule: Don’t cancel our one-on-one meeting.
Anticipate. I prep for my meeting with my manager.
- Print and review his calendar. Check.
- My questions written on my handy-dandy form. Check.
- Additional sheets of that form, just in case I have a lot if notes to jot down. Check.
- Copies of any work in progress, just in case it would help to have it in front of us. Check.
So what’s our one-on-one meeting like?
His schedule. I don’t see it as a waste of paper when I print his calendar, one day per sheet, for the next week. Those sheets are quick visual tools. Before we meet, I review his schedule for the coming week.
My list of questions. I keep a running list of questions at my desk. The questions that can wait until our 1:1 meeting. My go-to tool? Those handy-dandy “Things To Do Today” forms I mentioned in a previous post, “How do you to-do?”. When I have his undivided attention, face-to-face, it lessens the chance of miscommunication. It allows me to ask clarifying questions. (And, if I jot down the wrong information while I’m taking notes, he’s really good at catching that, saving me a second attempt later to follow-up on something I might have goofed just because I wrote something down wrong.)
So, my questions sometimes go like this:
- You need to prep for the XYZ meeting. I’ll schedule that. Do I have the right attendees? Conference room, or your office? 30 minutes or longer?
- Do you want pastries for the ABC meeting? (The most important question, right? 😉)
- The files are being shipped Friday; will your report be ready by 9:00am Friday so I can add it to the package?
- I’m not getting a response from another team member. Can you please intervene?
My work in progress. I also take this time to let him know what I’m working on. Not that he doesn’t know. But sometimes he’s so busy with meetings and going out to the job site, there are days when we barely see each other. So I take the time to let him know what I am working on, and what I have accomplished. And the work that’s expected to come up.
Sometimes our meeting doesn’t even last 15 minutes. But that’s okay, because we’ve accomplished what we wanted—discuss what’s coming up the next week and what tasks need to be done. Sometimes I have no questions on my list; that’s okay too. (Which amazes me, because I usually have at least one question on my list. When I find myself going back to my manager after our meeting is over to ask a question I just thought of, that’s my trigger that I didn’t do a good job of anticipating—didn’t think through all the possible next-week scenarios. If I find myself doing that, I make sure to slow down and prep a little more diligently before our next meeting.)
Yes, our stay in touch, one-on-one, regularly-scheduled meetings are an effective tool for my manager and me.