6 tips for 1:1s with your manager


6 tips for 1:1s with your manager

1:1s have been a hot topic for me lately – whether that’s managers wanting to be more prepared and resourceful, or team members wanting to have a more in-depth conversation and get more support from their manager. Maybe it’s that time of year, when we look back at what’s worked well, what could have been better.

If you’re a manager and you want to get some practical tips, this post will help (but don’t go away just yet, please. You just might find something useful by taking the perspective of your team members).  

But what about your 1:1s with your manager? How are they working for both of you? Do you leave these conversations with greater clarity, essential priorities and a sense that you’re being supported as well as supervised? Or do you wish you knew how you’re progressing – or stalling – and what to do next?

1. Keep your goals in sight

You should have clear goals (or targets, OKRs, whatever they’re called in your workplace). Check that your goals are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Before every 1:1 with your manager, reflect on your progress since your last 1:1 and the impact on your work.

2. Be prepared

What was discussed last time? Refer to your notes from your previous 1:1. What did you agree to do – and have you done it? It’s vital you can come up with clear examples of how you’ve taken action since your previous 1:1 and how it’s working for you and the wider team.

3. Be honest about lessons learned the hard way

These conversations are an opportunity to share your successes and slip-ups – to enable you to learn from experience. If something didn’t turn out the way it should have, be clear on how it happened and what you’ve learned from that experience. Your 1:1 conversations with your manager are an opportunity to ask for their advice.

4. Spot skills gaps

If you don’t have the skills to fully hit the standard expected, discuss your needs and performance support in your 1:1. A good manager should support your development.

5. Get feedback

Expect clear feedback on your performance, whether that’s about your contribution to the team’s output, your written work, and how you behave with colleagues. Ensure you’re clear on what to do more/less of. See my ‘7 tips for receiving feedback’.

6. Make notes

Make clear notes during your 1:1 as the conversation develops, rather than rushing at the end. Don’t hesitate if something your manager says isn’t completely clear – now’s your chance to ask questions. Summarise what steps you’ll take between now and your next 1:1.

If you want to have better 1:1s in your organisation, please get in touch to discuss how I can help.


Dawn is the author of ‘The Feedback Book’ and ‘How to be Zoomly at work’

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