Why 1-to-1s Are Important For You And Your Team

24 Mar 2022

Organisational behavioural governance expert Dan Webber outlines the crucial importance of 1-to-1 meetings, and explains how to get them right

Getting the right behaviours and culture in the workplace is a constant exploration of honesty. 

This means allowing the spaces and vehicles to really ensure and enforce the honesty and wellbeing of individuals, teams, and the organisation.

One really direct and powerful way of helping the environment is ensuring that regular 1- to-1s take place. 

Not just the act of having the 1-to-1, but having the right discussions to make sure everyone has a voice and feels heard.

Employee dreading 1-to-1s

Don’t People Dread 1-to-1s?

I used to dread 1-to-1s.

They would be in my diary at the end of every month (usually on a Friday afternoon), and they would consist of my manager grilling me for 20 minutes on what I had done – or not done – in the previous weeks, and then spend the next 10 minutes giving me a list of tasks.

I would occasionally get asked if I was OK and if I needed anything, but usually this would end up creating another three or four tasks on my to-do list.

I used to leave feeling stressed and under-valued – and it certainly didn’t set me up for the weekend.
It turned out that wasn’t the right way to do 1-to-1s.

Watch this video to see Dan Webber further discussing the importance of 1-1s with fellow behavioural governance expert Oliver Randall

What Does A Good 1-to-1 Look Like?

Good 1-to-1s with staff should be a priority in any organisation.

And a certain level of skill – or at least a process – is needed to make sure you get it right.

Essentially, they should be a pastoral activity which allows the individual to be honest about how they are getting on and what the organisation can do to help them. Providing an honest, supportive environment should be the main aim of all 1-to-1s.

Staff members should feel like they have:

  • Been listened to
  • Allowed to have their say on how things are going
  • Had the chance to honestly say how they are getting on
  • Openly express frustrations and maybe even fears

A Helpful List of 1-to-1 Do’s and Don’ts 

Do

  • Ensure you have regular scheduled 1-to-1s and prioritise them as ‘important’
  • Schedule an hour for the meeting, so they’re focused and not rushed
  • Listen – this is the most important part! Really try to understand the issues
  • Make sure you both understand and agree any actions
  • Use this for positive reflection and promote honesty

Don’t 

  • Use the 1-to-1 as a performance management discussion. If performance is brought up naturally in the conversation and this is a block or issue, then obviously discuss it – but there shouldn’t be a primary focus on performance, as this may cause people to feel scrutinised
  • Rush through it or allow distractions to interrupt.
  • Be defensive or confrontational. Allow any conversation to be honest, even if it feels uncomfortable at first
  • Make notes, and then just leave them until the next meeting. Follow up with an email of actions, and do your best to make sure things are followed up

A Safe Space

Remember, everyone will have challenges that will affect their passion and focus. 

1-to-1s, at the very least, should provide a psychologically safe space for the employee, where they feel they can share, get the help they need, and really feel valued. 

Equally, 1-to-1s are a right, not a privilege – everyone should get these opportunities to openly and constructively discuss things with their line managers or even more senior leaders. 

Use 1-to-1s as an opportunity to reflect. And yet, saying that, don’t wait until your next 1-to-1 to discuss what you feel is a pressing or worrying issue. A workplace with great behaviours and culture should allow honesty at any time where anything creating anxiety can be addressed ASAP. 

Interested In Learning More About 1-to-1s?

We have a very handy 1-to-1 help sheet that you can use to prompt the right conversations and focus. 

Just drop us an email at team@tribe365.co or call +44 (0) 1325 734 847 if you’d like it.

Send me insight
See More
Close