Steal This: My Proven and Tested Framework for 1:1 Meetings

A One-on-One Framework to combat bias and build deep relationships with remote teams

Rukmini Reddy
Nov 5, 2019 · 3 min read

As I’ve been sharing my philosophy on leadership, people have started asking me how I build trust with my teams — especially as a remote leader. My secret is consistent, one-on-one meetings with every single person that I manage. I use a template for everyone. I manage the invitation. I listen. I take notes. Day by day, brick by brick, I build trust with my team by showing up.

I learned pretty early on that a “come find me” approach to management didn’t work because it relied on psychological safety before I had built it. So I made the switch to using a set 1:1 framework after reading Fierce Conversations. These questions are designed to get us to open up and get real with each other, giving people the space to talk about what they are scared about or how they are blocked. Using the same set of questions with everyone means that everyone regardless of location, level, privilege, or visibility gets the same amount of time and space from me. This takes bias out of my management style. I’m not accidentally supporting one person more than another just because I ran into them in the office and we got to catch up. That’s a very human thing to do, but it doesn’t support remote workers, introverts or those that aren’t as visible. It’s not fair to manage your team this way and it also sets you up for bias.

The world is changing. Remote tools are changing the way we work, how and when we work. But I get a lot of questions from intrepid managers who don’t know how to move past face-to-face management. If you’re going to be a manager that helps shape the future of work and make it — and the positive impact it can have on society — possible, then you need to sharpen your remote management skills. This framework managers offer the same support to everyone, regardless of their location. It allows you to keep up with what’s most important and create a positive social protocol in a remote environment so you can build psychological safety and trust.

This framework from Fierce Conversations has helped me build deep relationships and successful teams. It’s helped me build empathy for the humans I was managing, instead of looking at them like a list of outcomes and deliverables. And these relationships have given me a 98% retention rate on my team over 8 years and 2 companies. It works!

Feel free to steal it, make it your own and roll it into your management framework. Tell me how it’s going — I want to hear what’s working and what you’ve adapted for your culture.

First conversation:

What are you looking for in our 1:1?

Every conversation after:

What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about today?

How is this currently impacting you or your team members?

What is your ideal outcome?

What is your goal for the next 3 months?

What area of your responsibility are you most satisfied with, least satisfied with?

What do you wish you had more time to do?

What things are you doing right now you would like to stop doing or delegate to someone else?

For People Managers:

Who are your strongest team members? What are you doing to make sure they are happy and motivated?

Who are your weakest team members? How are you offering them support?

For follow up conversations:

What has become clear since we last met?

What are you hoping I don’t bring up?

What conversations are you avoiding right now?

Always ask:

What can I do better?

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Rukmini Reddy

Written by

VP of Engineering, Platform at Slack |Tech leader| Speaker|Mentor

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

Rukmini Reddy

Written by

VP of Engineering, Platform at Slack |Tech leader| Speaker|Mentor

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

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