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8 Ways to Improve Your 1-on-1 Sync-Up Meetings

1-on-1 Sync-Up meetings are crucial to the success of your company.

Sounds exaggerated? Think about it. 1-on-1 meetings are a tool used to help your employees succeed, which directly impacts how well your organization performs. Without these meetings, you’d have directionless, disengaged people— which isn’t good for team morale or accomplishing goals.

The purpose of Sync-Ups is to have managers meet with their team members to build rapport, discuss performance, coach them toward goals, and help remove their blockers to success.

There are rules of engagement when it comes to Sync-Ups. In this article, we’ll cover 8 ways your managers can improve their meetings with direct reports.

The benefits of continuous feedback conversations

8 Manager Tips for 1-on-1 Sync-Up Meetings

1. Don’t skip the Sync-Up

Rule number one of 1-on-1s: never skip them. It doesn’t matter how busy your management team gets. A Sync-Up that’s regularly skipped or rescheduled indicates to the employee that they’re not a priority. And that fosters feelings of indifference, which can cause disengagement.

Reschedule meetings if needed. But even then, as a manager, hold yourself accountable for tracking how many meetings you’ve rescheduled. If you realize neither party can attend a recurring meeting, set yourself up for success and reschedule it for a different day or time.

Plus, not meeting with your direct reports regularly can have a huge effect on your team’s work. Say, for example, you don’t see one of your employees one-on-one for several weeks. In that time, someone decides the direction of a major project — and they chose poorly. That can cause severe consequences your team will have to deal with eventually — costing everyone precious time, effort, and money. So maintain frequent communication to avoid simple, but significant, issues.

Learn how WorkTango sets Sync-Ups up for success:

WorkTango for Conversations

2. Be prepared for the 1-on-1 Sync-Up

Want to have a useless meeting? Well, if you don’t prepare before you come to the table, it’s more or less guaranteed to be — let’s be frank — a waste of time. Some people can operate on the fly, but many aren’t wired that way. In the latter category? Set yourself up for success by using a Sync-Up meeting template to organize your thoughts.

It’s obvious to a person when their manager is unprepared for a meeting. And that reflects poorly on the entire organization. It makes an employee feel like their manager doesn’t care, which has a devastating effect on their employee experience.

What’s the best way to prepare for a meeting, then? Use employee success software to plan, document, and organize meetings for managers and team members.

Employee success software that replaces antiquated performance management approaches, provides a shared space that only managers and their employees can see. It allows both of them to write down questions or feedback throughout the week leading up to the Sync-Up. That way, each party is aware of what will be discussed in the meeting, and there aren’t any surprises. It holds both parties accountable for being thoughtful about their allotted meeting time.

What’s more — employee success software can help managers address minor questions before a Sync-Up to save time during their meetings.

3. Practice relationship building through 1-on-1 Sync-Ups

Spend at least the first five minutes of the meeting on relationship building. Ignore the urge to jump right into business and get to know your employee as a person. This rapport is important for two reasons: it humanizes you as a manager, and it shows that you value your team members.

It’s easy to settle for the “How are you?” “Good.” routine. Dig deeper. Ask if they have any personal goals they’re working toward, or about their weekend.

If they’re reluctant to open up, show a little vulnerability first to encourage them. Be people first, colleagues second.

The power of vulnerability in 1-on-1s

4. Actively listen during the 1-on-1 Sync-Up

Listening may not come naturally to everybody. The 1-on-1 Sync-Up is a great opportunity to brush up on this skill. Remember, the Sync-Up is all about the employee, so give them a chance to speak.

Start the meeting by asking how they’re doing. This helps you understand what to focus on during the meeting. It also gives you a quick temperature check of how the person is thinking or feeling.

Don’t stop them when they’re talking. Instead, actively listen to them. Strive to be aware of your body language — sit up straight, nod, and meet their eyes. All of these things may seem small, but together, they make a powerful difference.

5. Provide feedback in the 1-on-1 Sync-Up

Giving feedback is an obvious but often overlooked part of 1-on-1s — don’t forget these meetings are a chance to provide honest and constructive feedback. Before giving feedback, get a progress report on daily tasks and goals. General updates like these can act as springboards to giving feedback.

“I like how you did this last week” or “This week, let’s focus on improving in this area” are ways you can dive in.

Make sure the managers give feedback that is specific, timely, and actionable. It might seem scary to deliver at first, but in reality, most people are hungry for feedback. Without it, areas of improvement are difficult to pinpoint.

6. Ask for feedback during the 1-on-1 Sync-Up

Feedback is a two-way street. Encourage employees to give managers essential feedback. Asking for feedback opens the door for people to say something they may have been hesitant to bring up.

Everyone can grow and improve, so have managers welcome and encourage constructive feedback on their management style. Accepting feedback will not only help managers succeed, but it will also strengthen their trust and respect with their direct reports.

And remember, don’t just accept the feedback — act on it to set an example.

7. Coaching through 1-on-1 Sync-Ups

After going over the progress update, spend the rest of the time coaching. In order to do this correctly, it’s important for managers to understand people’s motivations and long-term goals. That way managers can offer relevant advice and guide them in the right direction.

One important thing to keep in mind when coaching is making sure to ask open-ended questions so employees are mentally engaged. Don’t talk at them; that is not how anyone learns. Challenge them to think critically and solve the problem first before you offer a solution.

There are two ways to coach:

  1. Choose a skill the employee currently struggles with; brainstorm paths to success.

Open-ended questions for this type of coaching can include:

  • What do you think you could improve on?
  • Why do you think you struggle with this?
  • What did you try last week that didn’t work as expected?
  • How are you going to approach the problem this week?
  • How are you going to accomplish this by the deadline?
  1. Choose a skill the employee already excels at; push them to take it to the next level.

Questions to ask here are:

  • How can you use this skill to improve your workflow?
  • How can you use this skill to help the team overall?
  • What is the next step now that you have mastered this?

These open-ended questions encourage the employee to take ownership of their work and careers.

8. Keep track of what’s discussed in the 1-on-1 Sync-Up

Here’s where an employee success platform is a game-changer.

Use an employee success platform to document what you discussed in Sync-Ups and update goals, as well as progress. It holds both parties accountable. And, at the most basic level, it’s great if you tend to be forgetful, or are especially busy.

So use an employee success platform to list action items from the meeting. Use notes from previous 1-on-1s to shape your next one. Take the time to document the process and you’ll streamline your meetings, saving everyone time and boosting productivity.

Take your 1-on-1 Sync-Us to the next level

Spending time on people, no matter how well they appear to be doing, is always worth the effort. WorkTango’s all-in-one Employee Experience Platform streamlines the Sync-Up process to make the effort easier to obtain.

At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only Employee Experience Platform that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, supports alignment through goal setting and feedback, and offers actionable insights through employee surveys. WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. So if you’re ready to improve (work) lives, schedule a demo today.