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  • Writer's pictureCommon Good Company

3 steps to effective 1:1 meetings


Managed well, one-to-one meetings with your team can be a time for feedback, understanding and relationship building. They are an opportunity to build psychological safety at work by encouraging a culture of truth and openness (also known as radical candour).


Enabling your team members to feel heard without a fear of judgement can have a profoundly positive impact, and one to one’s are a great place to start.


Use these tips for those meetings where you want to connect with the team member and find out about them and how they are doing.


1. Questioning


Always ask open questions. Starting a question with “what…”, “how…”, “where…” results in a much more in-depth and revealing answer. Not only that, it allows your team member to lead the direction of the conversation, rather than you inadvertently shifting it. So watch out for leading questions - ‘is that because, would it be better if’ as well as closed questions which only require a yes or no answer.


Also make sure questions are asked one at a time, instead of ‘stacked’ to help the conversation stay clear and focused.


2. Listening


Engage in deep listening. Deep listening requires full attention, presence and an openness to the direction of the conversation. It may sound obvious but observe yourself next time you’re having a conversation. You may discover that you’re listening while formulating a solution to offer up, making a judgement or half thinking about something else. Bring your full awareness to the conversation, and show that you are doing so through body language, clarifying any points and reflecting back. Don’t underestimate the power of listening deeply in this way.


3. Responding


Always respond productively. When a team member has been sharing openly and honestly, it’s vital that they leave the situation feeling that their openness has paid off, and that they would be happy to be as open next time. This is key to the continuing relationship with the individual but it’s just as important to the culture of the agency and building psychological safety. Acknowledge and thank them for their feedback / input / honesty. Remember that it’s not always easy to share fears, vulnerabilities or uncertainties with a manager, so it's important to actively give them the confidence they’ve done the right thing.


These simple but effective tips will build trust and confidence when you want to have a check in with your team members that goes beyond the day to day.


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