Working the Weekly 1:1

A better approach for the most important meeting of the week

There are a lot of work “rituals” that suck so badly you want to hunt down and interrogate who ever invented them. The dreaded weekly status email is one of them. The weekly 1:1 between a boss and a direct report can be another. What should be a chance to get on the same page with the person critical to your success is often awkward, overly chummy or even skipped.

Start with at least a little prep

Step 0. Before the 1:1, scan the person’s status report. Is there anything there that you should address? A worry, a missed goal, a drop in confidence?

Now you’re ready to coach

  1. G is for Goals. Ask your report, “What would you like to get out of today’s meeting?” Let their topic lead the discussion.
  • How’s that make you feel?
  • What’s exciting?
  • What’s scary?
  • What’s making you [sad, angry, happy]?
  • How does your culture or history affect this?
  • What do you know? (Can be used when someone says, I don’t know”)
  • What surprises you about this?
  • What’s possible?
  • What if you had a magic wand, and what you wanted just happened?
  • What’s a new way?
  • What if there were no barriers?
  • What’s the ideal?
  • What resources are available?
  • What’s next?

What if you aren’t the boss?

It can be tough when your boss isn’t the best coach. But you can still coach upwards. Ask your manager what she wants to cover or suggest a topic, then ask her what she knows about the reality of the matter, share what you know, bounce options off her and so on. Help her help you.

Managers, avoid the seduction of bossing

If you do have advice, ask for consent first. Try saying something like, “I have an idea I think might help. May I share?” That little gesture of respect prevents you from appearing bossy and makes space for your report hear what you have to say.

Designing business, and the business of design.

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