02 March 2023 |

5 Myths About 1:1s

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

Quick poll: raise your hand if you have received formal training on how to run an effective 1:1 with your reps…

With one-on-ones being the most meaningful activity you can do as a front line leader, it’s absolutely 🤯 bonkers 🤯 how few managers receive training, direction and reinforcement on how to do these meetings well. At the very least, we could get some guidance on what NOT to do!

This week, we’re debunking 5 one-on-one myths so you’re not sabotaging your success as a manager.

Myth #1: You only need to do one-on-ones every couple of weeks.

Once upon a time I had a manager who told me one-on-ones weren’t necessary. They insisted I limit my one-on-one’s with my reps to every other week. Fast forward one month of trying out a new rhythm and I had a team of neglected reps and one skip level boss who questioned if I was the right person for the role.

Driving this home a bit more, MIT Sloan Review shares individuals who meet with their managers weekly report feeling 20% less anxious, dread one-on-one’s 17% less and feel 12% more successful at their jobs compared to those who meet with their managers less often. TLDR; weekly one-on-ones for the win!

Myth #2: Reps should own the agenda for one-on-ones

People can fight me on this, but no, managers are the default agenda owners. A huge chunk of our job is setting clear expectations. That also means setting expectations – aka outlining an agenda – for one-on-ones.

Assist: Your one-on-one agenda should always take into consideration topics that your rep wants to cover, so make sure you’re allocating time for their priorities.

Myth #3 – One-on-ones should be standardized across all of your reps.

No two prospects are truly alike, even if they appear to be. They’ll have different needs, varying starting points, and unique interpretations of what appears to be the same thing. Your reps are no different. They’ll each have their own unique skills, strength, opportunities for improvement and motivations. Treat them as such.

Your overall one-on-one objectives may be the same with each rep – to connect, drive performance, deliver feedback, identify action items, etc – but how you go about accomplishing that may look different from rep to rep.

Myth #4: One-on-ones are for telling reps what to do.

Did you do this? Did you do that? Why not?

Too often one-on-ones sound more like a parent about nagging their child for not cleaning up their room. What do we call a nagging manager? A micromanager.

To avoid this trap, consider approaching your reps in a way that encourages them to come to their own conclusions on what’s “best” for them while accounting for what’s best for the business. This requires you to trust your reps and to meet them where they’re at.

Myth #5: Communication with reps only happens during one-on-ones.

Many managers let their people and themselves fall behind because they only communicate with their reps during one-on-ones or when something needs to get done right away. This kind of communication is transactional.

What some of the best managers do is deliver a transformational experience for their people founded on mutual and personal relationships. This starts by taking a sincere interest in your people. For example, say hello in the morning and ask them how they’re doing every day. If they mentioned plans they’re looking forward to, ask them about how their plans went. Remember the names of their significant others, children, and/or pets and ask them how they’re doing.

Time Out: I have a fun, but simple exercise you can run with your reps if you’re looking to turbocharge rapport building with your reps. Let me know if you’d like me to send the instructions!