My clients often ask me what makes for a great 121 (one-on-one) followed by how to have them.
My personal view is that having a great 121 meeting with a team member involves effective communication, active listening, and a focus on achieving specific goals and outcomes.
They should be done regularly and consistently with the whole team and in doing so they build trust and foster great relationships and aid communication. 121s actually enable other things to happen in a business like setting goals and standards, holding people to account, having difficult conversations, giving and receiving feedback, setting and creating culture, employee engagement and so, so, so much more.
In my experience 121s don’t go well because they are often rushed, aren’t planned, don’t happen at all or the leader isn’t confident holding a 121.
They are often not viewed as activities that are as important as getting the day job done and are therefore not prioritised as a key part of the working relationship. They are not planned into the working diary or if they are, they are frequently moved because something “more important” has come up.
The impact of what a great 121 can achieve is not fully understood by leadership.
Remember that successful 121 meetings are a two-way street. Both parties should contribute to the conversation, and the focus should be on achieving positive outcomes and strengthening the relationship.
They will help you set a positive growth mindset, outcome focussed culture in your business.
So, here are my views on how to have a successful 121 meeting every time:
- Set Clear Objectives:Determine the purpose of the meeting with a growth mindset. Believing that 121s will foster trust and relationships, help you stay abreast of what is happening in your business, and are genuinely a key tool in your toolkit will ensure that you approach these meetings consistently with everyone. Decide what you want to achieve or discuss. I typically advocate two types of 121. A weekly task or objective focussed 121 to focus on progress and achievements towards the business objectives and then a monthly or bi weekly personal development 121. Create a clear agenda outlining the topics you’ll cover.
- Schedule Appropriately:Choose a convenient time and location that minimises distractions and doesn’t impact on business delivery. Ensure you have enough time to cover all agenda items without rushing. Do not cancel or postpone a 121unless there is a genuine, unavoidable catastrophe!
- Prepare in Advance:Do your homework. Gather any necessary information or data. If it’s a work-related meeting, review relevant documents or reports. It’s ok to ask your team member to do some pre thinking or preparation too.
- Effective Communication:Remember this is a two way conversation. Clearly express your ideas and thoughts. Use “I” statements to convey your perspective without making the other person defensive. Be concise and avoid going off-topic. Ask the team member for their thoughts views and opinions. Genuinely listen to the reply and encourage participation. Create an open and non-judgmental environment where the other person feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.
- Active Listening and Questioning:Active listening is a real and learned skill. Practice it. Pay close attention to the other person. Show that you’re engaged and interested in what they’re saying and avoid interrupting. Let them finish their thoughts before responding. Listen to hear and understand not to try to answer or respond. This means listening not only to what’s being said but also what’s not being said. Ask open-ended and curious questions to encourage discussion. Demonstrate respect and Empathy. Show respect for the other person’s time, opinions, and feelings. Be empathetic and understanding, especially when discussing sensitive topics.
- Stay Focused:Stick to the agenda to ensure you cover all essential topics. If new issues come up, decide whether they should be addressed in this meeting or at a later time.
- Problem-Solving:If you encounter challenges or conflicts, focus on finding solutions together rather than assigning blame. Brainstorm ideas and consider different perspectives.
- Take Notes:Decide between you who is taking notes and share these notes afterward for clarity. Keep track of key points, action items, and decisions made during the meeting and agree how the follow up will occur. You could consider sending a summary of what was discussed, action items, and any agreed-upon deadlines. Ensure that responsibilities are clear and that both parties are accountable for their tasks.
- Feedback and Improvement:Periodically evaluate the effectiveness of your 121 meetings and seek feedback from the other person. Adjust your approach as needed to improve future interactions.
And if you’d like to chat about developing your 121 skills, behaviours and confidence…..Book a complementary call here