People Quit Managers, Not Jobs — 4 Keys to Effective 1x1s

The sun was beaming, the water shimmering and the roar of the crowd echoed in the background. I was in my first one-on-one with my new manager at Reflektive and we were partaking in what would become a regular highlight of my week, our walking one-on-one meetings around the San Francisco Giants stadium by the water.

Since joining Reflektive last February I have noticed a marked shift in the effectiveness of meetings with my manager than in previous roles. Today, we use our one-on-one’s to tackle the most pressing issues with customers, problem solve and discuss strategic initiatives. Notice, I didn’t mention status updates. If you are using your one-on-one meetings for status updates, you are wasting valuable time. There are other ways to keep your manager in the loop on day-to-day tasks.

People leave managers, not jobs Click To Tweet

“People leave managers, not jobs” has become a cliché in human resource circles, but remains true.

According to a recent Gallup study “one in two employees leave their job because of their manager.” Your one-on-one meetings with your manager are the most intensive time you spend together, and if you aren’t getting the value you need from your manager, you’re probably not running an effective one-on-one. These are the make and break moments. It is important to treat them accordingly.

Here are a few strategies I have used to increase the effectiveness of my one-on-one meetings.

  1. Setting an agenda
  2. Walking
  3. Timing
  4. Cadence

Let us unpack each of these.

1. Create an Agenda

Setting an agenda for your conversations sets the meeting up for success. It provides structure and ensures the meeting doesn’t veer too far off the rails.

At Reflektive, we use our own 1×1 Agenda tool for our meetings. This intuitive tool lets us collaborate on the agenda, where each of us can update from the Reflektive plug-in or web application. This is valuable because it lets me easily add items to the agenda throughout the week and makes the meeting more collaborative.

2. Have a Walking Meeting

Put simply, walking meetings help me think more clearly, enabling more creativity and higher-quality decision making. There is a great TED Talk by Nilofer Merchant where she discusses her transformation from sitting to walking meetings and there is recent research by Stanford to back it up.

3. Modify Timing

Changing my 30 minute meetings to 25 minutes has led me to more effective meetings, and counterintuitively has made my days feel less rushed. As a customer success manager with 50+ customers my days are filled with back-to-back meetings. Having the 5 extra minutes back in my day allows me to prepare for my next call, run to the bathroom or refill on water. This allows me to start my next meeting with 100 percent focus on the task at hand instead of out of breath from running from a previous meeting.

4. Iterate on Cadence

How often should a manager meet with their direct report? Depends, but I have found weekly or biweekly works best for most managers. My manager and I meet on a weekly basis and alternate topics every meeting. One week is dedicated to tackling strategies for priority accounts and the other week is left for more high level topics such as team initiatives, projects I am working on, and career goals.

One-on-one meetings have become treasured time and an essential tool to my personal development Click To Tweet

In essence, my one-on-one meetings have become treasured time and an essential tool to my personal development in the role. If you don’t feel fulfilled at work and don’t know if that will change, maybe it’s time to start small and reconsider your one-on-one meetings with your manager.

For you, what do your one-on-ones currently look like? What purpose(s) does your one-on-one with your manager fulfill for you? Become a Reflektive Insider — email dani@reflektive.com to contribute.

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