How do we approach 1:1 meetings
1:1 meetings are an essential tool of managing performance. Managers meet with their reports and discuss how they and their work are progressing. Nevertheless, not every company does it in a way that can actually boost productivity and inspire people to improve. In this article we will reveal how it works in Sudolabs and share some useful tips on how we prepare for 1:1 meetings.
What are 1:1 meetings?
We cultivate an environment that encourages self-improvement, career growth, and constructive feedback at Sudolabs. As part of this effort, regular 1:1 meetings are crucial for us.
In its most basic form, our 1:1 meetings are regular meetings between managers and their direct reports, usually happening once a month. However, if there is a need, they can happen more often or as ad-hoc meetings.
With a growing team, more projects, tasks, and responsibilities are on our shoulders, and communication is an essential part of business development. We believe that strengthening interpersonal relations leads to successful teamwork. For this reason, the moment a new team member joins Sudolabs, we assign them a manager, that will be their mentor on their personal growth path. Every manager in our company has their role defined and that is to:
Provide guidance and mentorship for career growth
Go over the career ladder with the team members
Help to identify areas for improvement and a way to achieve it
Provide mentorship for leadership and communication skills
Help to clarify processes or company culture items that might not be clear to the team
Help the team members with any improvements or initiatives that they come up with, help to lead them, and shape them to have a meaningful impact
Help with any blockers that the team might encounter
Help to communicate effectively, create clarity and resolve conflicts
We have an article describing the role of managers, in specific, engineering managers, that you might find insightful.
So what are our 1:1 meetings like?
The first 1:1 meeting
Before the first 1:1 meeting, the manager always creates a 1:1 document to record goals, action items, and achievements. There’s also a database of the 1:1 meeting notes and 360 feedback.
What actually happens during the first 1:1 meeting?
Managers and reports get to know each other and the managers introduce them to the 1:1 meetings
They both agree on a day and time of their recurring event
Managers ask about their goals, growth plans, and also about their learning paths, and learning preferences
The reports are encouraged to tell their managers about their careers, goals, and plans. The more they tell, the better help they receive with setting up a plan for their growth. This will enable them to come up with the first action items that will set them off on their growth path.
The reports need to keep track of their work progress after their first 1:1 meeting, and for that, some preparation is required.
How do we prepare for 1:1s
1:1 meetings are there rather for the reports than for the managers. It provides them with the space to express their frustrations and needs, and raise concerns and questions regarding the projects or tasks.
There are different ways how managers and reports can prepare for 1:1 meetings, so here's what we do.
Creating a personal page for each report - every report has its own personal page with a link to the accomplishments database, action items, feedback, and notes
Always going through the notes from the previous meeting - it is important to make thoroughly detailed notes to keep track of what was discussed and what needs to be discussed next. Reviewing not only notes but also accomplishments and action items is crucial for a successful 1:1 meeting
Dedicating time right after 1:1 meeting - after every 1:1 meeting our managers block some time in their agenda and focus on writing all the essential points and thoughts down
Individual approach - every person thinks differently, has a different personal growth plan, and requires a different approach. The manager is there to listen, focus on each individual and find a feasible way for each report to grow
Getting personal - to build and maintain trust with the report, getting personal can break the ice. “I start every 1:1 meeting by asking how they really are. This is an extremely important step to ensure a successful and deeper relationship. I believe that work and life are intertwined.” Ján Raška, Senior Engineering Manager, Sudolabs
Writing down the agenda ahead of the meeting - 1:1 meetings are there to boost productivity and help in career growth. Writing down the output from the previous meeting can help them discuss important topics and move them forward to the goals they set.
Writing down the accomplishments continually - accomplishments can vary depending on the level of experience. Listing them down gives the reports a clearer idea of what to do in order to step up their career, gain the knowledge in the areas necessary for their work
Reviewing the action items - their manager asks about the progress from the last meeting, their tasks, projects, and how they spend their learning time
Being open-minded - having an open mind when it comes to 1:1 meetings and willingness to share matters, even on a personal level, creates a good working relationship with their manager.
Benefits of 1:1 Meetings
We see 1:1 meetings as a great way to maintain open communication, build relationships, and feel valued.
Face-to-face communication lets our team members feel that their concerns and insights are heard, appreciated, and considered, which strengthens the relationship within the team. It provides a unique opportunity for private discussion
It boosts productivity, lessens waste of time, and provides a clear picture of current issues and progress by holding regular 1:1 meetings
It aims to ensure long-term happiness at work by providing the team with relevant, personalized, and constructive feedback. 1:1 meetings foster empathetic work relationships.
It's easier to solve important issues sooner rather than later when there are regular conversations and the right questions asked. They encourage a problem-solving mindset.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: "The key to a good 1:1 meeting is the understanding that it is the report's meeting rather than the manager's meeting. This is a free-form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas, and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email, and other less personal and less intimate mechanisms."
The article is part of a series that takes a look behind the scenes at Sudolabs. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of our structure, how we work, but also how we approach things. We will be coming up with various topics about how Sudolabs work gradually, so follow us.