1-on-1s are really fucking important (see last post to understand the profanity). Horowitz preaches this, and he learned it from Andy Grove’s High Output Management (Horowitz says this is his favorite management book).
Let the employee set the agenda. Understand that a 1-on-1 meeting is the employee’s meeting, not the manager’s meeting.
Let the employee do 90% of the talking. Your job as the manager is to get the employee talking with good questions.
Here are most of Horowitz’s example questions for 1-on-1s:
“What’s on your mind?”
“If we could improve in any way, what?”
“What’s the number one problem we have and why?”
“What’s not fun about working here?”
“Whom do you admire and who is kicking ass?”
“What change would you make if you were me?”
“What are we not doing that we should be doing?”
“Are you happy working here?”
“What do you like about the product?”
“What is an opportunity we are missing?”
Ideas and frustrations should come out during 1-on-1s. A 1-on-1 should be a place to talk about other employees or someone’s personal life. Many of these topics are relevant to your employees, and not all of them fit into emails or status update meetings.
A 1-on-1 meeting is an excellent mechanism for ideas to flow up in the organization. Hold them dearly to your heart and honor your commitment to holding these meetings.