What makes a great manager

A great manager comes from many things but a key theme is bringing out the best in their people. Great managers tune into issues, listen and coach, and guide success with a trusted relationship. One of the most important and easiest activities used by great managers are to run well organized and frequent one-on-one meetings.

Why one-on-one meetings are so important

One-on-one meetings are places for staff to bring up things that don’t fit into status reports or email. They provide an excellent forum for information and ideas to flow up the organization. They’re also a time for conversations about family and other non-business topics that build trusted relationships and make people feel valued.

Benefits include a more engaged, capable, and productive staff.

The simple formula for great one-on-ones

A best practice is to make this the employee’s meeting. To reinforce this, have them send you the agenda in advance. Have a set of categories that you cover every single time. Managers should try to spend most of the meeting listening. When offering feedback, make sure to give praise first and try to hold back on criticism. If a course correction is necessary, be constructive. Take notes.

Start the meeting by reviewing progress from the last meeting. Finish the meeting with short-term plans and ways you can help. Listen much more than you talk.

Key and recurring topics 

Here are some themes you’ll want to cover each time such as:

  • Current events and workload
  • Accomplishments and progress
  • Challenges and obstacles
  • Personal development goals and progress

This is your time to be an advisor, guide, and coach. Help staff with their struggles, suggest solutions, promote reflection, and advise on new skills and how to build them. Have empathy and coach them to meet the demands of their work.

Have questions on hand

While it’s not the manager’s job to set the agenda or do the talking, the manager may need to facilitate the conversation. This is very important for introverted staff. Drawing out issues is a key management skill.

Here are eight good questions for your one-on-ones:

  1. If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?
  2. What’s the biggest problem with our organization? Why?
  3. What’s not fun about working here?
  4. Who do you admire in the company?
  5. If you were me, what changes would you make?
  6. What don’t you like about the product?
  7. What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?
  8. What are we not doing that we should be doing?

If you’d like to learn more about delivering great one-on-one meetings, please reach out to our team. SkillNet technology was purpose-built to bring key employee data and progress to your fingertips so you can run excellent one-on-ones and be a great manager.