Scalable Leadership: 
The Simple Truth About Good 1:1s

One of the training programs we deliver most often is Management 101, where we help educate managers on their organization's leadership principles as well as provide a refresher on management basics like 1:1s, performance management, comp conversations, etc. A lot of the managers we work with are first-time managers, as is often the case within start-ups, and a question that I always receive is a request for a template to follow for 1:1s. People want a script to follow to make their 1:1s as efficient (and as little work) as possible.

The truth is, there’s no magic script. And really, there shouldn't be.

1:1s are a manager's opportunity to connect with their employee and allow them the chance to be heard. They are not just another status update.

To that end, managers should be empowering their employees to own the 1:1. Rather than driving the conversation, they should be giving their team members an opportunity to discuss what they need - whether that's help problem solving, prioritizing or just venting.

It is a manager's job to set a regular 1:1, with enough time to have a meaningful conversation, and then make sure it happens, always. Then let the employee drive that conversation.

In his post, The Update, The Vent, and The Disaster, Rands in Repose offers a great perspective on reading the room in a 1:1 and responding appropriately. It is a useful road map to help categorize your employee's needs in a 1:1 and then make that meeting the most effective use of time possible. If there is any possible template for managers to use, this is the one.

written by Aja Deodato, Principal Human Solutions Consultant