No one wants anymore meetings than are necessary, but if you do need them you should make them count. Squeeze every possible drop of useful information you can, and get on with the things you enjoy. With that in mind I wanted to share some tips to help improve meeting efficiency, and maximize the value of meeting with your manager.

For the last year or so I have been using the following topics to help me find the right balance in my 1on1 meetings with my manager, I follow this basic pattern:

  • My priorities (in order)
  • Get help or Realign my priorities
  • What's been going well
  • What's not been going well
  • General feedback

One of the reasons I feel this process works for me is that it empowers me to get the information I need to make me successful. Rather than assuming my manager is in on all the details of my day-to-day, I present the priorities I have gleaned and asks for detailed feedback. So let’s dive into the details.


My priorities (in order)

This is just a simple list of the things my manager and the team have communicated as the most important things I need to work on. I am a firm believer in this list being ordered by priority and if I have a lot of things I limit it to the top 3 items to help emphasize their magnitude and importance.

Brainstorm, get help or (re)align priorities

So the list I have defined is based on what I have assumed and inferred from direct and indirect conversations, emails and IM's. However, the list order and possibly the contents may be completely wrong. What I noticed happening is that depending on my own mood, or the assumed context of a conversational exchange, I might erroneously categorize one item as more important than another.

If nothing else this part of our session provides my manager the opportunity to ensure that we are fully aligned. This is the chance I present my manager to completely reset my priorities without making me feel bad that I am working on the wrong thing. This section helps me feel like I have some measure of control (it is not always the case) and so the power dynamic of having your priorities reshuffled is something we discuss and, hopefully, I get to understand.

What's been going well + What’s not been going well

While I think of the first two sections as purely work oriented, the next two topics tend to be much broader. I can use this section to talk about failing or late projects, and the multitude of reasons that might have happened. This way none of the issues I face will ever take my manager by surprise, because I will talk about them until they get resolved. This give my manager the the opportunity to help me create the success I am looking for.

Feedback (give and receive)

This is the last part of our meeting and it is more open ended than previous sections. This is the time where things I have not intuited or picked up on can get inserted by manager. However, this is a two way street, I am also giving my manager regular feedback, it may include details on the interactions we have had or successes I think the team deserves to be lauded on.

Again every one of these interactions are designed as a mechanism to get impactful and helpful feedback. Remember this is not about dumping out my concerns, it is about communicating and getting alignment along with the help I need to move forward.

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