I’ve been reading a lot of leadership and management related articles recently and really enjoyed this one on 1:1s by Cate Huston.
Its a truth universally acknowledged that 1:1s are one of the most important activities of being a manager. And yet we all know of managers who dont do them, or do them so badly that they can hardly be called 1:1s at all. Ive heard about managers who show up to the 1:1 and talk at their report until the time is over. Im not sure if this is better or worse than no 1:1 at all. The worst manager I ever had, I dreaded our 1:1s so much that I used to get up an hour later on days when I would have to speak to him. My recollection of them was that there would be a terrible, awkward silence, which I would feel compelled to fill, but anything I said would be judged and used against me.
Contrived social situations can be awkward. In a new report-manager relationship, both sides have to show up to a meeting with someone they barely (or dont at all) know, and talk. Some people might face that situation with equimanity. As a new manager, I did not. It was terrifying, but worthwhile and before too long had passed it was clear that everything Id read about 1:1s being the most important use of my time as a manager was true.
At the core of a good 1:1 is this: show up and listen.
Lets break this down.