A Manager’s guide to 1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings

A Manager’s guide to 1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings

Table of Contents

For most employees, their days are riddled with meetings. All-hands meetings, departmental meetings, quarterly kick-off meetings, performance review meetings … the list goes on. Some meetings are critical to productivity, others … not so much. You need to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. If you’re interested in holding all the aces, your weekly 1-on-1 Sync-Up meeting is not one to be skipped.

Who’s in a 1-on-1 Sync-Up meeting?

The 1-on-1 meeting happens between a manager and their direct report. They usually have some sort of cadence to them (see “when”) and are instrumental in driving team alignment and employee success.

What do I talk about in a 1-on-1 Sync-Up?

Have you ever walked into a meeting and had no idea what you’ll be talking about? It’s an awful feeling. Not only does it prohibit you from coming to the conversation prepared, but it also devalues the point of the meeting, making it an interruption versus a benefit. This is exactly what you don’t want your 1-on-1 meetings to be.

Introducing: Agendas

Okay, we’re not spewing a revolutionary idea here, but the fact of the matter is that agendas are often an important, but overlooked, component in meetings. In 1-on-1 Sync-Ups, where the setting feels more relaxed, agendas are sometimes perceived as “too formal” and abandoned. This is a misnomer, as agendas shape the meeting, focus the conversation and keep things on time. Here are the key items that should be on every 1-on-1 agenda:

  • Employee issues and items (after all, this meeting is for them)
  • Temperature check (gauging engagement levels)
  • Short-term priorities (what are we doing specifically to meet commitments)
  • Commitments (review of longer term goals / are we on track)
  • Roadblocks (what challenges exist & how can the manager help)
  • Updates (company news, HR information, etc)
  • Career development & growth

Oh – and we can’t forget feedback. Even the idea of feedback can make managers and employees uncomfortable.

But properly delivered feedback is a conversation that draws attention to both successes and areas for improvement. It’s the most powerful, management tool we have at our disposal. For employees, feedback is a way to validate their accomplishments, while fostering development. For managers, feedback from their team members can help improve their coaching, while also giving insight into the team’s engagement levels.

What are the best ways to give and solicit feedback? Come to your meeting prepared, be specific and timely, and approach challenges from a solutions-oriented perspective.

When should I have 1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings?

The timing of 1-on-1 meetings is really up to the manager and employee, and what works best for them both. If, as the manager, you have a weekly management meeting that is renowned for running late, it probably doesn’t make sense to book a 1-on-1 right after. Some suggest that Mondays and Fridays are not great days to book 1-on-1s because people tend to be ramping up for the week or gearing down for the weekend. These weekend anchor days are also commonly booked off as vacation.

Meetings can be as succinct as a 15 minute check in or as thorough as an hour for more conversation. There isn’t an ideal formula that works for everyone. Your main consideration is to make every minute valuable.  

Why does a 1-on-1 Sync-Up meeting even matter?

Only 30% of employees and 35% of managers are engaged at work. When the workforce is disengaged, productivity decreases, turnover increases and customer satisfaction levels drop.  Regular 1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings are critical to the employee experience. Employee experience influences engagement. And engagement leads to both employee and business success.

How do I start conducting better 1-on-1 meetings?

Tracking and managing  1-on-1 conversations is a great place to start. Using WorkTango’s Goals & Feedback solution to document key discussion points and go-forward actions that both parties can refer back to, is a surefire route to staying organized, engaged and on track for success.