5 reasons 1x1’s with your boss aren’t as productive as they could be

Supervisor 1x1’s are too important to not take full advantage of. Your boss has a direct say in salary, work assignments, promotions and everything in between. Not that you didn’t already know that. Below I’m going to share some best practices I’ve learned from studying organizational behavior as well as from my experiences working for some amazing (and some less-than amazing) managers.

Assumption: you’re actually having these types of meetings. And more than once or twice a year. I’d suggest 2–4 times/month. We all know that it’s tempting to miss or cancel due to urgent deliverables, training, holiday/OOO time, etc. Don’t. This is a surefire way to end up with your career stuck in neutral.

1. You don’t understand what’s most important to your boss (bonus: your boss’s boss)

What is your boss spending the most time on? Where and what exactly are their priorities and pain points. Try to tap into the bigger picture from their point-of-view. Understanding direction from a higher level will put you in a position to make more informed career choices. And why stop there? Take it up another level and inquire about what your boss is hearing from their boss. Getting the scoop ahead of time on planned changes in organizational priorities or processes will keep you a step ahead.

2 You aren’t involving your manager in career planning

It’s crucial that your manager understands your career aspirations. Is there another role you’d like to move toward? Additional skills you want to work on? These are things you need to ask yourself first and then loop in your boss. The ball is then (at least in-part) in their court to help guide you and push you toward that path. Show initiative and be open since your boss can only help if he/she is aware of your goals in the first place. A good manager will be able to point you in the right direction and provide resources or contacts to help you realize your career goals.

3 You don’t have a training plan

In addition to a higher-level career plan, you should have a more tactical yearly training plan. Build this up-front (ideally) with your manager’s help. Then in subsequent meetings revisit and discuss actual progress. Don’t be afraid to pivot and change things however the key is to show that you’re moving forward. This proves you’re proactive in advancing your skill base and growing outside of your “regular” assignments. It’s also helpful to have something concrete when it comes time for performance reviews. Finally, be sure find ways to actively demonstrate these new skills. Simply completing training is not enough.

4 You’re not giving or receiving feedback

“What can I be doing better?” is a question that goes both ways. Yes this can be uncomfortable (criticism is always a delicate subject) but will eventually lead to a more productive environment. And who wants to wait for the EOY review for an unpleasant surprise? This way you have time to fix any issues before they grow into bigger problems. And don’t be afraid to share your perspective on what your boss is (or isn’t) doing. This is a great time to bring up a new idea to improve a team process.

5. You’re afraid of small talk

So the weather is, well yeah just the weather. But don’t shy away from actually connecting on outside work activities and passions. Showing a legitimate interest in vacations, family life, or hobbies all help to build a bond. Establishing this relationship will yield dividends down the road as you will be viewed more so as a partner and less as simply a resource spitting out work assignments. Don’t overdo this one of course.

If you spent more time in the meeting debating whether or not Jimmy Fallon did a good job hosting the Golden Globes, then.. you’ve probably overdone it.

To sum up, actively addressing these areas will definitely lead to more productive and deliberate 1x1 meetings. This will in turn put you in a better position to succeed and grow in your job.

I truly hope you’re able to take away and put into place some portion of this post! Best of luck in 2017. Please press that heart below and sound off in the comments if I missed or was not clear on anything.

Thanks! oh and find me on twitter: @dfesta