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How to Hold More Effective One-on-One Meetings

February 27, 2017

Regular communication is critical to keep employees engaged in their work. Meetings show support and build respect, rapport, and trust. Study after study has shown that poor or infrequent communication can lead to unhappy employees. Yet meetings can also lead to frustration if they are unstructured. Here are five management tips for holding more effective meetings:

1. Schedule it.

Sure, one-on-one meetings feel more organic when they happen on the fly, but by scheduling them in advance, you give both parties time to prepare, which will make them more productive. Also, a scheduled meeting time will ensure meetings actually happen; you don’t want months to go by without touching base. Shoot for a weekly meeting, but if not, then try to meet monthly at a minimum.

2. Make it an open discussion.

Tick off the subjects that need to be addressed but also make sure to make time for less pressing, but still very important, issues like career advancement. One of the goals of one-on-one meetings is keeping employees engaged and happy in their work, so make sure to touch base with them about their goals and any grievances they may have, so you can address them before it’s too late.

3. Limit interruptions.

For the most productive meeting, stay focused on the conversation. Turn off the phones and email notifications, and close the door. Don’t come late, and don’t cut the meeting short. Make sure employees know this time is for them. Let them do the majority of the speaking. Depending on your management style, you may opt to take the meeting off-site, such as a walk around the block to the local coffee shop.

4. Take notes during and directly after the meeting while the information is still fresh in your mind.

Then follow up again after the meeting with an email to summarize thoughts, make resolutions, and outline actions. It can be difficult to remember all that was said during a meeting, and let’s face it, some things can get lost in translation. A follow-up email adds clarity and a concrete plan. Even if you just thank the employee for their candid conversation, employees will appreciate the follow-through.

5. Call it what it is.

Let employees know this is not a performance review but rather a chance for them to ask questions, provide you feedback about their work (and not the other way around), and whatever they would like to discuss. Managers should mostly ask questions and listen. Some employees might require prompting. If so, ask them about their work habits, productivity or lack thereof, their experiences working with team members, and which parts of the job they are enjoying most and least. It’s also wise to ask them about their short- and long-term goals and how you can help them achieve those goals.

Getting to know your employees can reap significant rewards. They may have untapped talents or big ideas that can take your business to the next level. At the very least, finding out what makes them tick helps put them in the roles and projects they can excel at, leading to greater retention, higher productivity, and better morale.

At Pacific Office Automation, our corporate culture centers around the idea that together, we can raise everyone up: our customers, our communities, and ourselves. Our job is to help our customers solve problems and boost productivity, and that mindset carries over to our own company culture. We want to be a long-term employer, which means career advancement, employee training, and community-building. Contact us today to find out more about exciting career opportunities at the largest independent printer and copier repair dealer in Portland.

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