It’s an elemental rule of management that in order to lead others you must practice frequent and open communication. The general wisdom is that managers can best accomplish this by holding regular one on one meetings with direct reports, usually weekly.

Make it About the Employee

In order to lead a productive meeting with your employee, make sure you keep it about that employee. It is important to hold the one on one meeting as a sacred space where you’re not just issuing directives. Because the ultimate goal with is to further the employee’s self-development, take a step back and focus on the employee as a human being. While the meetings don’t need to be long, they need to be focused. If you put in the intention and consistency required to hold a good one on one meeting, you will quickly notice increased engagement and performance from your team members.

Use a Collaborative Document

A shared document is easily accessible pretty much everywhere – across devices, even without a network connection if you choose the available offline option. A shared document is the perfect way to capture action items, what is said and what has been decided.  You and your employee could agree that the agenda is developed an hour or two in advance. This gives both of you time to see what’s coming and prepare. It also allows you to keep a running archive of one on one content that could come in handy down the line for any number of reasons.

Be Present

As a leader and a manager, you have a ton on your plate. However, this may be the only time your employee gets to talk to you alone all week or perhaps even all month. So be present for them. The one-on-one meeting is a perfect time to practice being present and free from distraction. It’s not easy, but it is possible with intention. Forbes suggests you come to the meeting focused and committed – don’t schedule between back-to-back meetings so you come late and have to cut out on the dot.  Keep off your phone and email, and close your door to limit interruptions.

One on one meetings can be time wasters or a great source of learning. In order to make the most of your one on one meetings, keep the focus on the employee. Stick to a regular routine and use a an ongoing collaborative document. Most importantly, make it a priority to be present for your employee during the meeting. Use these tips to make the most of your one on one meetings this year!