Now, more than ever, it is important that as a manager you have regular and purposeful interactions with your employees. After 17 months of turmoil through Covid-19, felt both personally and professionally by so many, do you know how best to support your employees? Are you checking in with them on a regular basis to find out what’s on their minds? Do you know whether they may be a potential flight risk?

1-to-1s, or check-ins, are an ideal opportunity to build and maintain the manager/employee relationship, support performance through coaching and feedback and to aid progress towards goals by proactively addressing any obstacles or challenges.

What does good look like?

Regardless of what you call the meeting or activity, an effective and purposeful interaction between manager and employee contains the following ingredients:

1) Regular dialogue

These interactions should occur regularly and be scheduled in the calendar for the year, or at least for the coming six months. They can be via a video call, face-to-face or a combination of the two.

The regularity of these interactions allows for an ongoing dialogue between the manager and individual where they can follow up on important topics and keep track of agreed actions and the resulting impact. This continued focus ensures that important topics stay front of mind.

2) Informal and relaxed setting

You may like to have an agenda for what is discussed in the meeting but the environment the meeting is held in should be a relaxed, informal setting. If the employee feels relaxed, they are more likely to be at ease, and open about anything that may be on their mind.

3) Mutual accountability

Both the individual and the manager share accountability for the success of these interactions. The individual should prepare for the meeting and come prepared to discuss ideas, successes, concerns and challenges. The manager should prioritise their time to be fully present and give thought to what feedback they want to share and how best they can support the individual.

4) Two-way feedback

Part of the manager’s role is to offer feedback on the individual’s performance to help them stay on track and improve in any areas that need development. And the 1-to-1 is a perfect place to do that; it is private and is a time dedicated to supporting the individual to do their best work.

However, there should also be the opportunity for feedback both ways. The individual should be encouraged to offer the manager feedback. To create an environment where this is possible the manager must be open to hearing the feedback and show the individual that they too are keen to improve the way that they work.

5) A learning environment

Effective 1-to-1 meetings create a learning environment where the manager acts as a sounding board for the individual’s ideas and thoughts. In addition, the manager uses their coaching skills to help the individual think through their challenges and explore potential solutions. Encouraging your team members to think for themselves will ensure you have a proactive team who own, and solve, their problems.

So, if you don’t use this practice already, or you have let the practice lapse over recent months, think about introducing (or re-introducing) it within your team. You’ll find that it will help you to have your “finger on the pulse” of what’s going on around you, and your employees will feel supported, more engaged in their work and committed to your organisation. It may just help your company to ride the wave of “The Great Resignation”, which so many companies are currently experiencing.


Written by Siân Milne - Lead ILM Management Qualification Assessor


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