Are you getting the most out of your 1:1 meetings with your boss? If you leave these meetings thinking, That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back then it’s time to evaluate how to make things better. Believe it or not, face time with your direct supervisor can be worthwhile, if you’re willing to make a few tweaks. Read on to see if any of these barriers are standing in the way.
[Related: Are YOU the boss? Here’s how to breathe new life into your 1:1 meetings]
Letting the Boss Call All the Meeting Shots
Are you thinking, “What 1:1 meeting? The only time I see my boss is when there’s a problem,” then you have your work cut out for you. But just because there isn’t a consistent meeting time set up with your team leader doesn’t mean there can’t be. You’ll need to take the initiative and request that a meeting schedule be set. Most likely you’ll need to “sell” this a bit – be ready with reasons why it benefits your boss, such as quicker decision-making on his or her part, your improved productivity or heading off problems at the pass. You might think, “Why should I have to sell this? Isn’t it my boss’s job to stay in contact with me?” Yep, it sure is, but remember: communication is a two-way street. If you focus on what your boss “should” do, and wait for him or her to wake up and get with it, you will not get the attention you need to grow your career.
Unclear Meeting Expectations
Feeling “meh” after you meet with your work team leader? Maybe it’s because you and your boss have differing ideas about the meeting’s purpose. It’s okay to bring this up by saying, “I have a question about our1:1 time together. I’m asking this so we’re as productive as possible – what are your expectations for this meeting? What outcomes would you like to see each month when we meet?” When you frame your question in the context of productivity, it doesn’t point the finger at anybody, so it reduces the likelihood of defensiveness. If your boss is stumped by the question, be ready with an answer that suggests the meeting’s agenda and format.
Unfocused Agenda or Lack of Preparation
As the old adage goes,”Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Each meeting with your boss represents an opportunity for your success; it’s a chance to showcase your talents, learn new information and build rapport with your manager. The average 1:1 meeting is 30 – 60 minutes in length once a month, so you have to maximize your time by being prepared. Strolling into the meeting with “Whatever” as your agenda isn’t a good game plan. Here’s how I prepared when employed as a Training Manager: I kept a running list of things to discuss with my work team leader Steve at our next meeting. This discussion list contained things that were important, but not time-sensitive. Every time something came up that might require Steve’s attention, I asked myself “Can this wait until our next 1:1?” If it could, I put it on the list. Examples included things such as career discussions, ideas for new projects and follow up on tasks from previous meetings.
Too Much Focus on the Daily Details
A lot of the communication between you and your boss most likely flows on a daily or weekly basis: urgent issues, status updates, small details that need to be passed along. Here’s what typically does not get discussed at the Monday morning huddle: your career aspirations. And with good reason: daily interactions are meant for the business of getting your job done. Yet if you don’t make time to talk about your goals for the future, you will have less chance to respond to career opportunities as they arise. When you plan for your 1:1 meetings, think not only of the running list I mentioned above, but also think about the bigger picture: how can you grow as an employee? Whether you desire a promotion, or you’re perfectly happy with what you’re doing right now, it’s important to continually add to your skill set. When you meet with your manager, be ready to offer examples of progress you’ve made toward growth and solicit feedback on ways you can continue to improve.
1:1 meetings with your team leader, even if they’re infrequent, are one of the best ways for you to improve yourself for future job opportunities. Make sure that you are confident, prepared with an agenda, and focused on the bigger picture, and you’ll have made great progress in capitalizing on this important communication method.