I know what you're thinking: "How am I going to find the time for this? That's what email, Slack, and texting are for!"
I hear you. The good news is that we're not talking about the kind of obligatory meetings in sterile conference rooms that neither party wants to be in. (I'm looking at you, dreaded annual performance review.)
No, as you'll soon see, these meetings don't even require that you schedule one-hour blocks two weeks in advance. They may only take 10 minutes, maybe 15, at most.
Here's the thing. One-on-one meetings become timesavers when used on a recurring basis, but you need to know how to structure them so they work to your advantage.
Here's how to pull these off with ease and great success:
1. The manager schedules each meeting.
As I said earlier, one-on-ones don't have to be longer than 10 or 15 minutes. The shorter the better. But the key? It's the manager who sets the meeting date and time. That shows you, the manager, have an interest in your people, and it tests your follow-through and commitment to your employee.
2. The employee provides the agenda.
The point of these meetings is to empower your employees. This means you task them with providing you with the agenda. Why? Because it puts the focus on them and pushes the responsibility on them to tell you, the manager, what they need to address and what they want to talk about. As hard as it may be for you, lay hubris aside and let your employees drive the meeting by giving you the agenda.
3. Schedule weekly or bimonthly meetings.
Depending on each employee's workload or level of responsibility (senior staff will require less meeting frequency) and the number of employees you have (this obviously won't work if you have 50 people reporting to you. But if that's the case, why do you have 50 people reporting to you?), try to meet weekly, but use your best judgment. Most employees, once they understand that the meeting is for their benefit and that it won't take a huge chunk out of their work schedule, will welcome it.
4. Put the focus on the employee.
Managers should always ask if there's anything else that needs to be addressed, and if employees have everything they need. Then managers can communicate their part in the meeting -- setting new expectations; giving good news and bad news; affirming or changing direction; providing feedback to keep performance at a high level; and giving praise and recognition.
5. Finally, emphasize commitment to the big picture.
Both parties need to demonstrate commitment to the process and show that they value these meetings for better collaboration and engagement. Before a meeting is over, verbally agree and acknowledge to each other that you're on the same page with direction and next steps. Managers, especially, need to show initiative by continuously communicating the vision, reinforcing the organizational values, and getting buy-in and commitment to a task, project, role, or goal in every meeting.