Why Your Direct Reports Wish You Were Better at 1-on-1s

The 1-on-1 meeting, an often under appreciated, under-utilized performance management tool. While some managers consider it an unnecessary use of time or an informal performance review, the 1-on-1 is so much more. It’s a manager’s best opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of individuals and team dynamics, build relationships with their direct reports, and focus development and goal-setting efforts.

SEE ALSO: The Ultimate Guide to One-on-Ones

For a glimpse into why 1-on-1s are so vital, let’s look at the data.

One of the key areas that managers affect is employee engagement. Gallup research shows that managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores. And when employees have regular face-to-face meetings with their manager, they’re three times more likely to be engaged than employees who don’t have regular meetings.

Regular 1-on-1 meetings with management provide opportunities for feedback and goal-setting—two major factors in the employee engagement boost.

Regular 1-on-1 meetings with management provide opportunities for feedback and goal-setting. Click To Tweet

Currently, only 23% of employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful feedback, which explains why 74% of Millennials surveyed said they feel “in the dark” about how their performance is perceived by managers and peers.

Receiving regular feedback, and having the opportunity to discuss that feedback in 1-on-1 meetings, allows employees to make immediate improvements. 1-on-1s can also help to prepare employees for what to expect in performance reviews, which is important considering that 62% of Millennials say they’ve felt “blindsided” by a review.  

1-on-1s are the perfect setting to discuss goals and set a plan for long-term development. Currently, only three in 10 employees strongly agree that they have someone at work who encourages their development. But those types of growth-focused conversations are vital—employees who have had conversations with their manager in the past six months about their goals are 2.8x more likely to be engaged.

1-on-1s are the perfect setting to discuss goals and set a plan for long-term development. Click To Tweet

But the most important area in which 1-on-1 meetings make a difference is relationship-building between managers and reports.

Only two in 10 employees surveyed strongly agree that they’re managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. But data shows that the best way to engage with and inspire employees is to talk with them. Consider that nearly 85% of Millennial employees said they would feel more confident if they could have more frequent conversations with their manager.

A Gallup survey asked respondents whether they feel they can approach their manager with any type of question. Among those employees who strongly agreed that they could approach their manager, the majority (54%) were engaged. And employees that didn’t feel comfortable approaching their manager? Only 2% were engaged and 65% were actively disengaged.  

In light of all this data, perhaps it’s not surprising that one in two American workers have left a job to get away from their manager, according to a Gallup study of over 7,000 office professionals.

Whether 1-on-1s take place for 30 or 60 minutes, weekly or biweekly, they shouldn’t be neglected. Employees are ready and eager to talk, and managers should be ready to listen and provide guidance. Ultimately, regular 1-on-1s could be the difference between an employee staying with your company or leaving for a competitor.

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For tips on conducting effective 1-on-1 meetings, be sure to check out How to Start 1-on-1s With Your Team and our Best 1-on-1 Meeting Checklist.

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