Over a year ago, I published some notes on how I was running one-on-ones. Since then, a lot has changed. I started out doing these sessions with everyone, but we’ve grown quite a bit so that simply isn’t possible anymore.

Still, I find it invaluable to have weekly meetings with the people I work with the most. Why? Everyone needs a continuous stream of feedback to improve. Everyone that is in a leadership position needs someone that listens and helps you get better.

This is the rough outline I have in my head: 10 minutes about them, 10 minutes what I have to say and the final 10 minutes about the future. I’m pretty flexible in these sessions, so if there are other points to discuss I’m happy to do so.

A couple of pointers (this is definitely not a complete overview of what there is to know about one-on-ones, but some highlights of what I found helpful):

  • Be serious about this. Depending on the person, over time your meetings could morph into a moment of relaxing and hanging out, but you need to be on your absolute best. This should not be just chatting.
  • Come prepared: I’m thinking about these sessions before and they’re the most productive if we both do. One-on-ones are the perfect moments to give constructive feedback as well. I’m trying to get concrete things in there: things that are going well, and I prepare things that can be improved.
  • Improve as a listener. This is not about yourself. Ask questions and get to the bottom of what is said. Make notes.
  • Ask a lot of questions.

If you want to help your team to grow, you need to take at least 30 minutes of your time each week per person. Sure, it costs you time, but if you invest in the structure, come prepared and are genuinely interested in your people, it will be absolutely worth your time.