Early in my career, my boss recommended that I meet regularly with each of my direct reports. He knew it would both improve their productivity and improve my relationship and influence with my team members.
I thought it was a great idea! And since I wanted the time to be as productive as possible, I spent weeks trying to figure out how to structure the meetings and when to schedule them.
Looking back – I wasted a lot of valuable time trying to set up and agenda for the “perfect” meeting. Which was a futile effort from the outset – because I was going to be part of the meeting – and I’m far from perfect!
So I did the one thing that I knew would get me going. I asked my assistant to put the One-on-One Meetings on my calendar. She scheduled them so I would have two weeks to get ready for my first meetings. So, here’s what I did…
I spent some time thinking about my purpose for the meetings. I also envisioned what my team members would like to accomplish in the meetings and what they would value most about our time together. Then I wrote it out –
To provide a structured time to coach my team members through the four components of effective leadership (life planning, business vision, business planning, and priority management) and to fulfill one of my core convictions – people are valuable and are worth developing.
Next, I scheduled biweekly, 30 minute appointments for each of my direct reports. I started out biweekly because I wanted to be sure that the meetings wouldn’t be too cumbersome by occurring too often without enough content.
Weekly or monthly meetings may work better for you and your team. In fact, my assistant and I meet twice a week for 30 minutes each time. Although we work together closely, the regularly scheduled appointments are very focused and provide a time to slow down and address top priority functions and projects.
Preparation is the key to an effective meeting!
The more time I spend preparing, the more effective the meeting is for both of us. I spend approximately the same amount of time preparing for each meeting as I do in the meeting itself.
My Guide and Template prompt me to select specific questions prior to each meeting. I also review notes from our previous meeting and the list of projects for the individual. This provides a basic outline for the meeting. So I feel a lot better going in.
A critical component of meeting preparation is location. Pick a place where you can relax, focus, and engage. This may be your office, their office, a conference room, the campus cafe’, or the local Starbucks.
For most of my meetings, I prefer to use an office or meeting room because we have access to tools for coaching when needed.
Wherever you land, turn off the mobile phones, set the office phone to do-not-disturb, clear the desk and table, let the receptionist and your team know that you are not to be interrupted. Eliminate as many distractions as possible. This will prepare you for what’s next…
The guide and template contain scores of questions to make it easy for you to prepare – personal questions, project questions, resource questions, follow-up and feedback questions. This is by design – questions prepare me to listen!
And we need to listen to our teams far more than we do! Bill Greer, President of Milligan College, once said to me, If you want to help people, listen as long as you possibly can before responding.
When you ask your team more questions than you make demands, you’ll be more loved & respected. (Ben Reed)
During the meeting
Just as my preparation improves the meeting, when my team members are well-prepared, we both get a lot more accomplished in the meetings.
I have asked each of my team members to use an agenda based on 6 simple items to help them prepare for each meeting. My downloadable guide and template includes this Agenda Form for you to give to your team members to help them prepare for your next meeting.
Since I began this process with my team, I have seen remarkable improvements in each individual. And I am improving! Our meetings aren’t perfect, but they’re far more effective than they used to be.
Use a Template
There’s no doubt you will face similar challenges. And that’s ok. You don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Just start with a simple plan for the meeting that prepares you to listen.
To help me prepare for one-on-one meetings, I developed a One-on-One Meetings Guide and Template.
It took months of tweaking to finally get my agenda template into a format that was comfortable for me. You can save all that time and download my simple guide and template now! This guide has become the most searched item on my blog from internet search engines and has been downloaded 1000’s of times since 2009.Get the FREE Template Now – $20 Value
What people are saying
WOW! Super helpful! Great guidance and practical strategies. As someone who participates in a weekly meeting with my supervisor, this will be a powerful tool to help me guide the meeting better from my side of the desk. Chad Miller, Finance Manager
I like the structure that the template provides – meet at a regular time and 30 minutes maximum. This requires both parties to prepare for the meeting and keeps it from being a time waster. I love the challenge to prepare to listen and follow-up after them meeting. Todd Linder, Executive Director
The perfect study guide before you have a meeting with your boss. You’ll be prepared for anything! Lee Tomlin, Associate Director, BBFI
I really like the meeting agenda for team members that you provide as a part of the guide and template. And love the idea of more frequent one-on-one meetings, especially for the purpose of assessing work flow. TJ Ward, Lead Pastor
I love the list of specific questions in each area. As a manager, this template could help me tremendously make better use of my meeting planning time because I have somewhere to start instead of starting from scratch. Dennis Scheidt, University Director
The guide is extremely helpful – both for leaders to use to prepare for one-on-one meetings, and for team members to use when their boss hasn’t provided an agenda to help them prepare for One-on-One Meetings. Paul O’Rear, Author
A great guide! I loved the sample questions! Lindsey Hartz, Executive Assistant
I like the three categories that make up the guide and template. They’re valuable principles to follow for a good meeting. And I really like the action plan portion. Great tool! Matthew Heavener, Director of Development
Everything in this book is right-on. It should be required reading for new college graduates about to enter the job market! Brian Parks, Software Developer
I particularly found the section on listening important. In far too many settings the leader is a poor listener. Yet the ability to listen well is the mark of the most respected leaders. I love your structured plan for the meetings – a terrific tool! And immediate follow-up is brilliant – it is another area where too many in leadership fall short. Tammy Condray, College Professor
Excellent! People want to be part of something that’s worthwhile. And it’s our job as leaders to help them feel worthy and valued in their role. It’s very helpful to have a template to use as a guide to get started. Curtis Barrett, Ministry LeaderDownload the FREE Template Now – $20 Value