7 One-on-One Meeting Habits of Successful Leaders

Business isn’t a caste system; it’s a cooperation of individuals in team-oriented environments. Click To Tweet

Business isn’t a caste system; it’s a cooperation of individuals in team-oriented environments

And, successful leaders know that to keep communication flowing, morale, high, and projects on track, they must make the time to get together with their team on an individual level.

They also understand that it’s impossible to get to know what each person is thinking, and what valuable insight they may be hanging onto without communicating in a one-on-one.

With these benefits in mind, here are seven one-on-one meeting habits of successful leaders that you can build into your own routine.

1. They meet regularly

Whether you intend on checking in with your team on a monthly, bi-monthly, or weekly basis, that is something you must decide and plan for in the long run. If your industry changes rapidly, it might be wise to hold these meetings more regularly.

To create this habit, schedule each one-on-one meetings into your calendar, and have each person on your team do the same.

2. They show up prepared

Just because you are a leader doesn’t mean that you are exempt from doing your research.

Before meeting with someone, be sure you know who they are, what their exact role within the company is, any specific talents they may have, as well as any struggles you’re aware of.

Take notes on their profiles, and write down five or six topics you would like to discuss within the one-on-one. Alternately, have the employee also bring in a short list of topics they would like to address. This way, your meeting will not only be time-efficient, but both of you will know exactly what you would like to communicate as well.

3. They don’t over-formalize meetings

Consider meeting in a relaxed environment, like on the way to coffee or in a short walk around campus. This creates a more relaxed tone and gives you an opportunity to build rapport.

You’re more likely to receive honest, valuable feedback, and you can brainstorm together on how to solve any obstacles he or she may be facing. You may be able to offer an immediate solution that would otherwise have been unavailable or unknown to that person.

If you’re new to engaging in informal one-on-one meetings, practice with a colleague before shaking things up with your team.

4. They ask smart questions

The outcome of regular one-on-ones with your team is more about building relationships and gaining insight into your team and company than it is about a performance review.

That said, having at least one-to-two goals in mind can keep the conversation on track and mutually valuable.

Is there a specific project you want to learn more about? Are you interested in diving more deeply into a post-mortem on a failed initiative? Do you need to understand how new team members are adjusting to their new environment?

Imagine what it would be like to be a leader who has their finger on the pulse at every level of the company. Start by writing down rhetorical questions that come up about your team and what they’re working on.

Now, you actually have an avenue for asking them.

5. They encourage teamwork

No man is an island; achieving goals usually requires teamwork. One-on-ones provide a great opportunity to encourage compatibility and cooperation within the team. If your employees feel a rift or professional disconnect from each other, they are much more likely to disclose such information in private than in a large staff meeting.

Learn how your team is or is not working with each other, as well as the causes, and place a massive effort in establishing camaraderie between members of your team.

6. They practice empathy and accountability

While it’s very important for leaders to establish a personal, human connection between themselves and their team, it’s equally as important for everyone to maintain accountability.

More than likely, if an individual is happy and their work is challenging, he will overproduce. Still, some individuals need more structure in order to thrive.

Build this habit by calling attention to areas of accountability, but always pair it with empathy. For example, “Sarah, it looks like XYZ project is falling behind. We’d like to start doing weekly check-ins reports to make sure progress is on-track. Can you think of any resources you need that we can support you with?”

Set clear expectations, but not without offering your support as well.

7. They build relationships

Good relationships are built on rapport, and taking a personal interest in your team. Aim to at least have a general sense of who each individual is, what makes them tick, one or two hobbies, their primary role within the company…and of course, their names!

Establishing a relationship is crucial not only between leaders and their teams but also within the team members themselves. Once employees know that you have a genuine interest in them and their well-being, unnecessary barriers will break down and more creativity will be sparked, ultimately helping the company to shine.

One-on-ones may be difficult at first, but after conducting them several times, they will become second-nature. You’ll learn how to adapt them to individual circumstances or employees, and the benefits will multiply exponentially.

Do you have any one-on-one success tips of your own? Share them in the comments below!