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How To Run a Useful One-to-One

Make sure you’re in the right mindset

Remember – this isn’t a meeting with an agenda, as much as it is a discussion. You may have an agenda to ensure you cover everything you need to, but there must be space for the conversation to go back and forth. One-to-ones are not just helpful for you to feed back to your practitioners, but also to give them a good opportunity to bring up any concerns or ideas. If you go into the meeting just wanting to tick everything off your list and then leave, you’re not utilising this valuable time with your team.

Be regular and consistent

One-to-ones should be frequent and regular. The frequency is important on both sides – for you to make sure your team are working as well as they can be, and for them to know they have an allocated space to talk to you about anything they need. Make sure you respect these meeting times and don’t end up rearranging them multiple times.

Obviously sometimes things come up, but constantly rearranging meetings shows a lack of respect for your team and their time. It also removes that regular safe space for them to talk to you – if they have an urgent problem they only feel safe to talk to you about in their one-to-one, but it gets delayed for weeks, their trust in you as a manager will be negatively affected.

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Practice active listening

Listen carefully to what your team are telling you and remember it. You may wish to take some notes but constantly writing will feel rude and impersonal. Make sure you’re maintaining eye contact and reacting to your practitioners as they speak, but don’t interrupt – respect the space they need to talk about their role and any potential issues.

Be open to new ideas

While one-to-ones are usually to feedback on your practitioners’ work and roles, be open to their feedback on your management and any ideas they may have about the running of your setting. There may be issues you just haven’t seen, or an amazing idea that would never have occurred to you but that will make everyone’s jobs easier! Be open to constructive criticism – none of us are perfect and you may be lacking in some areas but, by working together with your practitioners, you can improve this and ensure a great working atmosphere.

Collaborate on an agenda

Sharing the agenda, that your practitioners can add to, for your one-to-ones is helpful for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps you make sure you cover everything you want to. Secondly, it gives your practitioners a heads-up about what may be discussed and helps them think about what they want to say in response to some of your questions. Thirdly, it also gives them the chance to see what’s not scheduled to be discussed and allows them to add anything they feel is pertinent to your meeting, also giving you a heads-up on the discussion topics. Being organised in your meetings shows your practitioners you care about the discussion and aren’t just going to sit down unprepared and ask if there’s anything they want to discuss.

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff from Pexels

Maintaining effective one-to-ones with your team will ensure there is a regular time to check in, feed back and raise new ideas, creating a more open and happier workplace environment in your setting and building strong relationships between you and your practitioners.