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5 Tips for Better One-on-One Meetings

Topics: Career Advice
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You look at your Outlook calendar and wince; the dreaded one-on-one with your boss is coming up. Instead of avoiding this rare moment of reflection, you should embrace a chance to get feedback at regular intervals, and get that valuable face time with those in charge.

If you’re struggling to make the most of your one-one-ones, or even make a regular one-on-one happen, here’s how to get the most bang for your buck.

1. Make It a Habit

First things first, you have to get – and stay – on your boss’ calendar. Try to avoid a meeting time that’s at an often punted time of the day or month, like first thing on a Monday morning or last thing on a Friday. If you’re looking to get started with your boss as a regular meeting, talk to them about what you’d like to get out of such a meeting, like general feedback or a forum to air any grievances. If they know what to expect, they won’t be quick to sidestep the meeting, either.

2. Start With Successes

Don’t make one-on-ones into a snark fest. Always begin by sharing details on what’s been going on in the office that’s working, and share and personal successes you’ve accomplished since your last one-on-one. This not only starts the meeting on a positive note, but it also sets the tone that you’re looking for a meeting about working well together, whether that requires more of the same, or a change of direction.

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Don't make one-on-ones into a snark fest. Always begin by sharing details on what's been going on in the office that's working, and share and personal successes you've accomplished since your last one-on-one.Click To Tweet

3. Think of It As a Mini Annual Evaluation

While this might send you screaming for the hills, asking for feedback while you’re not also negotiating salary or wondering how you could have course corrected months ago could prove incredibly valuable. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions like “How could I avoid this problem in the future?” and get honest responses in an informal setting, with plenty of time to implement guidance before the issue comes up again.

4. Try Floating a New Idea or Two

Show some initiative during these meetings to float some ideas of your own or share some industry tips you’ve gleaned from recent reading. It’s a great time to show you’re really dialed in to your industry and you’d really like to improve yours and your organization’s results. Come with an article to share, or a quick newsworthy item that relates to something you’ve got going on. This isn’t time to share a funny meme, but instead, keep things professional and to the point.

5. Ask Questions

This isn’t just about running off a list of points, but you should also ask for some guidance on projects that are hitting walls, or coming up to deadlines they may not meet. Ask for intervention to help alleviate those blockages (sometimes a word from the boss can help you get a reply you’ve been needing from another coworker). You can also use this time to get some information on company rumors you’ve heard or office gossip. Get the story straight without spreading anything salacious.

However you go about it, a one-on-one meeting with your boss can be a great time to get some quality time with someone you hopefully like and respect, and someone who can help guide your career.


Do you try to have one-on-ones with your boss? Why or why not? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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