1 on 1 Meetings

There are those who do them every six months; There are those who do them monthly. There are those who do them fortnightly and even weekly. But there are also those who consider them a hassle, obligation or waste of time and prefer not to deal with it (unfortunately).

(Top image’s copyrights to Emmajen5)

I have been studying leadership processes since 2016. My interest in the Leadership theme comes from behind (2009), but only in 2016 did I “get” apart from the processes.

The 1on1 ceremony is one of the processes of a good leadership. And in order for it to be successful, it is mandatory to create a safe environment where any of the actors should have the opportunity to speak openly without fear of reprisal or judgment.

Therefore, using this ceremony to update task status is wasting a valuable opportunity. But what opportunity is this? After all, what are these 1on1 for?

It is a great opportunity to assess possible changes in the team environment such as breaches of confidence, stress levels, influence of external factors (such as personal life), among other things.

According to the podcast Manager Tools:

“It’s an opportunity for us to talk openly and get to know each other better, on many levels.”

Manager Tools

I like to use a framework I learned from these Manager Tools folks. The 1on1 session is divided into three moments – “Contributor, Me, and the Future.” Each moment preferably consumes 10 minutes. Since you don’t always talk about the future, you can change it to “Contributor, Me” with 15 minutes for each moment.

Contributor Moment

During this moment for the contributor to vent, the contributor can talk about anything they want. Sometimes it is necessary to start with an open question. If you want to take the advice of “The Coaching Habits“, start with “What are you thinking about?”.

In a true safe environment, get ready to embrace some critical conversations. Expect the unexpectable. Beware though, a safe environment isn’t synonym that you can start insulting each other. We are talking about two adults, so expect decorum and manners.

In response, we should direct the conversation with smart, but not that innocent questions. For those new to the art of asking questions, “The Coaching Habits” offers seven powerful questions (I advise you to read the book to understand why and what to expect from them):

  • “And what else?”
  • “What is the real challenge for you?”
  • “What do you really want?
  • “How may I help you?”
  • “If you say yes to that, to what do you have to say no to?”
  • “What was most useful to you?”

I use to use a timer and when the designated time ends, if the contributor isn’t sharing anything really sensitive, it is “times up”. This ceremony should be repeated after two weeks, so there will be time to restart where it ended.

“My” Moment

In the “My Moment”, I try to use this time to share something of my life with the contributor. The intention is to share my vulnerabilities, my doubts, my concerns, but also my victories, family moments that filled me with pride, and so on.

Sharing is caring

Vasco Duarte – Scrum Master Toolbox

Sharing is caring. When we share our vulnerabilities, we demonstrate to the other that, if they want to, it is safe to, also do so.

“Why not use this moment to give feedback to the contributor?”

Praise in Public, Criticise in Private (Elogia em Público, Critica em Privado)

Vince Lombardi

In fact, it seems to be the right time to correct the contributor, we are in private. At RUPEAL we are all in with that Vince Lombardi’s quote. But, we also argued that feedback should be recurrent and should happen as close as possible to the event. If we want to praise, do it right in the moment, in front of everybody. If we need to correct, the ideal is to be as close as possible to the event or behavior that you want to correct – but in private! It makes no sense to talk to a contributor to correct whatever happened days or weeks earlier.

OK, what about the Future?

New generations are no longer content to have a job “for life”. They seek to be challenged, to have opportunities for growth, for jobs with impact – if possible the impact should be bigger than the company. Knowing your contributor’s expectations can enable us to work on a plan to help them achieve what they are looking for.

Sometimes expectations are not aligned with the company plans and, invariably in the future both will part ways. But when there is alignment, it is up to the middle management layers to try to get them to the objectives.

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