14 March 2023 |


By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

But what does that mean?

“Effective” means different things to different people. Here’s a situation that reader Johnny Mago, a director of sales, it means managing expectations:

“I try to give ample time to my managers to discuss what is top of mind for them first, but it’s hard for me to follow up and follow through on CTAs/things we discussed in previous 1on1s due to time. I don’t like excuses but I make sure my weekly 1on1s don’t go past 45 mins if I can avoid it. I try to prepare the day prior and feel somewhat prepared going into every 1on1 but never seem to get clear on progress from last week’s discussions/topics.” 

If you keep running out of time and missing the mark on key priorities…

Recognize there are two things happening:

Thing #1: Time management in one-on-ones

Thing #2: Prepping for one-on-ones

Assuming this is the case, there are a couple questions you can ask yourself to assess where unforced errors are taking place and what you can do to limit those errors:

  • What are the expectations you’ve set for one-on-one structure and objectives to your people?
  • How much preparation work are you delegating to / expecting from your people?

If you haven’t set expectations for structure and objectives, I’d start there. For example, if you want to make sure there’s follow up and follow through on CTAs from previous one-on-ones, make that known and hold your managers (and yourself) accountable. If you find the most difficult thing about getting to those action items is actually getting to the action items, consider moving CTA / follow ups to the top of the agenda. You may also want to consider having defined time limits to agenda items. Example:

  • Overall check in (5 min)
  • Status update on action items from last one-on-one (5 min)
  • The meat of the one-on-one : What’s working well? What’s not? Where could you use support? (20 min)
  • What are some ideas you’re thinking about trying but haven’t yet? (10 min)
  • Agreement on next steps (5 min)

If you find you’re struggling to get clarity on progress from last week’s discussions/topics and would like to feel more prepared, explore delegating preparation work to your people and hold them accountable to that. This can look like having your people send you a recap of your one-on-ones right after you have them (or by end of day), including action items and due dates. This can also look like them sending you status updates on their action items the day before your one-on-one. This way you get more out of your one-on-ones and hopefully maximize the time you have together. 

The Assist: Change management. If anything above resonates and you want to try it out, it’s important to recognize you’d be introducing a change. With any change, it’s important to prepare your people to effectively adapt to those changes – provide clear expectations, show them what “good” looks like, show them how to get to “good”, and then provide feedback/coaching/validation as they navigate this change.

To wrap things up, one-on-ones are only as great as your rep is prepared to make them great. Your job as a manager then is to show them HOW to prepare to be great and COACH THEM to that standard of greatness. If you do this well, you’ll have much more effective one-on-ones with your reps and in return, get much more out of your reps.

I want to thank Johnny Mago again for submitting his question and remind y’all that my inbox is always open for questions!