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Some interactions go better without an audience
Many managers schedule regular team meetings, and there are benefits to discussing some things in the full group. However, some things go far more smoothly or are more effective in a one-on-one meeting or a Zoom/Teams call. Handling these items in one-on-one sessions also will make those full-team meetings shorter and more relevant to all of the attendees.
One-on-one sessions work better for:
Negative feedback. Don’t criticize one person on your team in front of the rest of the team. Ideally, talk to them individually, with a focus on giving them a chance to fix it, or at least directing them to do it better next time.
Dealing with conflicts. Talking to each person involved in a conflict individually first helps you get all the facts before you draw conclusions and take action.
Performance reviews and goal-setting. Some people will be more honest about their own past performance and future professional aspirations without an audience.
I recommend having a regularly-scheduled standing one-on-one meeting each week with each of your direct reports. I used this format successfully for many years, and many of my leadership class graduates have found it to be highly effective. I’d block off an hour for each person each week (but most sessions didn’t take the full hour, and you can always catch up on email or something when a session ends early).
Some people set these standing meetings up as a half-hour. Some people pick a more frequent or less frequent check-in schedule, depending on their needs. Consider what might work better with each person, including face-to-face versus Zoom/Teams.
Let each direct report know that you would like them to come prepared to give you a status update on all of their current projects and their plans for the next steps. Let them know that this is a time that the two of you can brainstorm or troubleshoot issues. Let them know that time-critical things don’t need to wait until the next scheduled meeting, but that non-time critical things should. This will reduce extra interruptions in your schedule, and also give them your undivided attention in the meeting.
Consider also using some of the scheduled time to discuss “Big Picture” aspects of their careers, and help them see how what they want to do might fit into what the company is doing. This can be mentoring time—investing in helping them find a path to success and fulfillment in your organization. You will develop a more competent and motivated employee, and they will be able to work toward their success. This strongly improves morale and retention for your entire team, so it’s worth the extra effort.