Designing One-on-One Employee Meetings to Increase Engagement

Designing One-on-One Employee Meetings to Increase Engagement
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One-on-One Employee Meetings Can Increase Employee Engagement
One-on-one employee meetings with direct reports can be a powerful tool to increase employee engagement and productivity.

What is Wrong with One-on-One Employee Meetings
Unfortunately, most employees and managers feel that employee meetings are often:

  • Disorganized – too many one-on-one employee meetings have unclear goals, weak agendas, and ambiguous next steps
  • Rushed – too many one-on-one employee meetings are skipped or short-changed by the urgent priority of the day
  • Tactical – too many one-on-one employee meetings focus on urgent activities and tactical issues versus strategies, relationships, processes, and growth.
  • Unilateral – too many leaders control decision making, veto solutions that diverge from their preferences, and limit their direct report’s discretion.
  • Unaccountable – for one-on-one employee meetings to change behavior, performance, and engagement, each meeting should be should be a positive, transparent, and customized investment in the employee’s growth and chances for success.

Why One-on-One Employee Meetings Matter
Most leaders know it is wise to hold regular check-ins with their employees, but how can you ensure the meetings are productive and collaborative enough that they are worth the time and effort it takes to get them right?

One-on-One’s Should Improve Employee Engagement
When it comes to increasing employee engagement, managers have a lot of influence.

  • 85.7% of highly engaged organizations conduct regular manager-employee one-on-one meetings.
  • Highly engaged employees even rate one-on-one meetings as their #1 communication strategy, ranking above all-company meetings and emails from leadership.
  • 85% of hostile employees say they don’t receive frequent enough feedback and coaching from their manager.

One-on-One’s Should Improve Accountability
High performing organizations consistently clarify, monitor, expose, and reward performance.  Every employee should have clear success metrics that are perceived as relevant, meaningful, fair, consistent, accurate, trusted, timely, transparent, and just possible.  A long but important list to get performance measures right.

How To Design One-on-One Employee Meetings that Work
So how do managers leverage their interactions to keep employees engaged? How can they create an environment of open feedback and show they care? How do they make sure effective, ongoing employee coaching doesn’t slip through the cracks and lead to disengagement or a lack of accountability?

We recommend you hold a manager-employee meeting monthly or quarterly — if managers can’t meet with each team member at least four times a year, the team might be too big. In each meeting, managers and employees discuss Goals, Obstacles, Opportunities, and Decisions (GOOD). Here’s the breakdown:

GOALS: What Do You Want to Achieve? 
Discuss the status of goals since your last one-on-one meeting, analyze the progress made on current goals, and plan for new and upcoming goals.

  • What long-term goals have we agreed to?
  • How have things gone since we last spoke?
  • What are our plans until next time?

OBSTACLES: What’s Standing In The Way of Your Success?
Talk through the obstacles that are standing in the way of goal completion and overall employee success. This can be anything from lack of resources to conflict with a coworker to unproductive work environment.

  • What’s standing in your way?
  • What have I noticed getting in your way?
  • What can I do to help? What can you do?

OPPORTUNITIES: Where Do You Want to Go from Here?
Discuss employee opportunities for recognition of work, personal and professional growth, and increased job satisfaction.

  • What are you proud of that people don’t know about?
  • Do you feel you’re growing toward where you want to be?
  • What could we do to make this your dream job?

DECISIONS: What Will be Done Before Our Next One-on-one Meeting?
Make decisions on what will be accomplished before your next meeting. Decide who will tackle which tasks and recap any new or updated goals.

  • What actions will you take before next time?
  • What actions will I take before next time?
  • What other big decisions did we make?

The Bottom Line
Effective employee meetings include feedback that is always specific, frequent, outcome-focused, positive, and sometimes conversational. Make sure your one-on-one meetings are GOOD.

To learn more about increasing employee engagement, download The Top 10 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement

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