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Skill Level Intermediate
A one-on-one meeting is a gateway for you to have honest, candid, and reflective conversations with your manager, trusted advisor, or peer. These meetings are an opportunity for you to be ruthlessly honest in a private and safe space. It's a way to check your work's direction, gain new perspectives, and gain actual guidance for your career, growth, and projects. A one-on-one meeting can have many goals, but the one one-on-ones I'll be discussing today are those that you have with your manager. Let's jump into the central makeup of this type of one-on-one. Overview of a one-on-one, the anatomy. A one-on-one meeting is anywhere between 30 minutes to one hour. It can tricky to decide if you should have a shorter or longer sessions or how often you should meet. Usually, it depends on your needs as an individual contributor and how you're performing. Here are two examples of how you can think about the duration and frequency. Try them out and see what works best for you. Example one, here are some pros. It's an opportunity to get a fresh start on a Monday. It gives you a chance to receive support and direction early in the week. It can warm the conversation by discussing what you did over the weekend and this can be a nice icebreaker to the meeting. Let's look at some cons. It can be challenging to remember what you did the week before. You might not be right on top of things first thing Monday morning. An hour session can feel like a long time if you don't have planned topics to discuss. Here's example number two, pros. It feels like you get more time with your manager because you see them twice a week. A 25-minute meeting can feel more manageable. There are more available slots throughout the day where you can get 25 minutes of your manager's time. Plus, you'll give them five minutes to get back to their next meeting. It allows you to have more time back in your day. Some cons. 25-minute meetings can go very fast, which might only allow you to cover two to three topics. When the meeting feel fast, it might feel disingenuous. Next, let's look at following a few one-on-one meeting principles to avoid wasting your and your manager's time. Let's start with agendas. An agenda is very important for a one-on-one because it acts as a guide to the conversation you're going to have. The best way I've found to generate an agenda is to write down two to three of the most important topics you want to discuss. Here's an example of what an agenda might look like. One project challenge to discuss. One career or goal question for your manager, something like, "From your perspective, "is there anything you think I could be doing better? "What is it and could you give me an example "of what great looks like?" Mixing things up. They're going to be times where you feel like these meetings are boring, unproductive, and monotonous. This is your opportunity to mix it up. Here are a couple ways to do that. Change the location of your session. Change the activities in your session. For example, do a walk and talk one-on-one, or a lunch, or work through a problem with a whiteboard together. I've used these methods and they help keep the one-on-ones interesting and productive. Next up, expectations and preparation. Working towards a successful one-on-one is an ongoing effort. Discuss with your manager how you'd like to leverage their time and be explicit about what you'll be bringing to the table. Bring in an agenda, be honest, have an open conversation, and be vulnerable and transparent. On the flip side, ask your manager what they would like to get out of the one-on-one. Here's a pro tip. When it comes to getting ready for one-on-ones, one tip that's helped me over the years is to prep a day earlier. Block 15 to 20 minutes every day to do prep work on your meetings for that day so you don't feel like you're scrambling to be prepared before each meeting. An example of this is blocking time on your calendar which looks like this. One-on-ones are meant to provide you with insights, learnings, and opportunities to reflect in a timely way. They're also the primary touchpoint to make sure you're moving in the right direction. If you'd like to chat more about one-on-ones, then I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter @abridewell, or you can join my Practical UX Weekly Group. Thanks for watching and I wish you the best for your next one-on-one meeting.