First, those 15 people don’t work for you; you work for them. What words did they choose and how quickly are they saying them? The content is merely a delivery vehicle for the mood and the mood sets your agenda.Think of it like this: if those 15 people left, just left the building tomorrow, how much work would actually get done? As I’m listening to the answer I’m discerning your mood and I’m throwing you into one of three buckets regarding the type of 1:1 we’re about to have: The reads on the majority of the 1:1s fall into the first bucket.It won’t be your actual performance review; it’s one aspect of your review that somehow strikes me as more appropriate conversation than an update on your bug counts.Chances are, in my professional life, something is currently off the rails. There is a point where you need to jump in, but these conclusions and your actions vary. The same facts and content might be thrown at you in a couple of different ways.What started as an emotional conversation has transformed into a war, and you’re suddenly and unexpectedly on the battlefield.Until you’ve seen the Disaster once, it’s hard to predict how you’re going to react to the perception of being attacked.Second, if you’ve got 15 people working for you, you’re not their manager, you’re just the guy who grins uncomfortably as you infrequently fly by the office, ask how it’s going, and then don’t actually listen to the answer. The answer to my softball opener is pleasant and familiar. You either state this up front with the alarming, “We need to talk” proclamation, which immediately throws you in the Vent bucket, but this could also easily be a Disaster.
A 1:1 is an opportunity to learn something new amidst the grind of daily business.
” The Basics Before we start, let’s go over the basic rules I follow regarding 1:1s: When you become a manager of people, an odd thing happens. Whether you are or not is irrelevant; folks just think you are. It’s easy to de-prioritize a 1:1 because unlike whatever meeting you’re running to or from, a 1:1 doesn’t represent an urgent problem that needs solving.
Consistently landing your 1:1s at the same time on the same day is a weekly reminder that you are here for them — no matter how busy. I’ll beat this perceived lack of value opinion out of you later in this piece, but for now understand that each time you bail on a 1:1 they hear, “You don’t matter”. Do you understand the answer isn’t the point, either?
Business is full of people worrying loudly about projects, process, and other people.
These people have opinions and they share them all over the place — all the time.
There will, hopefully, be a point when the majority of the emotion has passed and they’re willing to having a rational discussion.