Team 1:1s

Last modified by Justin Stern on March 23rd, 2020 at 01:04 am.
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Nice, a fresh one!

1:1 time is crucial for both professional and personal development. Each team member has a ~30-45 min 1:1 once a week with their direct manager.

Tooling

We use Lattice to manage our 1:1 meetings. These 1:1s are designed to be for the team member–no topic (personal or professional) is off limits. Each team member should create and share an agenda in Lattice each week, prior to the meeting. Aim for posting this at least 24 hours in advance so your manager has ample time to review. Managers can take notes to help track progress, set action items, and follow up within Lattice.

Philosophy

Overview

Though the bulk of our workflows are centered around asynchronous communication, synchronous 1:1 meetings between managers and their individual team members are a key foundational piece of our culture. We’re committed to creating a company where people love to work, and believe that starts with intentional relationship building between managers and their team members. While we generally try to avoid being too prescriptive in how these 1:1s should be conducted, there are a few core beliefs that we follow for guidance.

Core Beliefs

  • 1:1s take place every week, at the same time

This is likely the most important part of 1:1s–simply that they happen! 1:1s should never be cancelled, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Particularly in a remote company, having a weekly scheduled space for 1:1 conversation between team members and their managers is key. Developing good relationships takes time in any environment, so for a remote workforce that doesn’t see one another in person regularly, 1:1s become even more important as part of that relationship building. Holding this meeting at the same time every week adds an additional element of consistency, something that is very important for us as a team, as outside of these scheduled meetings all of us set our own hours, and work in different timezones. Having a standing timeframe for 1:1s helps ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle of a  busy week.

  • 1:1s are driven by the team member, not the manager

We house all of our 1:1 notes and agendas in Lattice, and team members are encouraged to set agendas in advance of the meeting. We’re big believers in set agendas leading to more informed, in-depth conversations, dialogue, and ultimately, solutions. 1:1 agendas are meant to be a collaborative effort, with both team members and managers adding talking points. We encourage 1:1s to begin with the team member’s talking points–as these meetings are ultimately about their needs. That said, it’s up to both the team member and manager to decide which items are highest priority in any given 1:1, and to talk through the agenda accordingly.

  • There should be a personal and professional element to all 1:1s

That said, 1:1s are meant to be an open space for team members to discuss whatever they’d like with their manager. We encourage team members and managers to be open with one another about what’s going on in their lives outside of work, in addition to focusing on professional development and day-to-day tasks. We know that 1:1s will look different over time. Some meetings may be purely focused on work, some purely on personal, with the majority likely being some blend of the two. At the end of the day, the primary goal for 1:1s is to build relationships both personally and professionally. 

  • 1:1s provide a space for timely, constructive feedback

We’re big believers in learning from our mistakes, and think 1:1s are the best space for that learning and reflection to take place. It is important to note here that we do not encourage managers to hold feedback until a 1:1. Managers are encouraged to share direct, constructive feedback in the moment, as needed, and team members are encouraged to do the same. 

We believe 1:1s are the best space for follow-up, and honest and respectful dialogue. The important thing is that we openly discuss what led to a given situation, and what we’ll change for next time. 

  • 1:1s don’t follow a script

As referenced above, we try not to be too prescriptive in this area. All 1:1s are going to look slightly different, as they’ll be a reflection of the individual relationship between manager and team member. We encourage team members and managers to have upfront discussions around what is most helpful for both of them when it comes to 1:1s. Aligning on individual needs early and often is key to developing an open, trusting relationship. There are a couple goals for these conversations. First, to learn how to best work together. As referenced above, this will look different for each manager/team member relationship. Second, 1:1s are about growth – relational, personal, and professional. 1:1s are an ideal space for recurring check ins on goal progress, and serve as an excellent forum to help both managers and team members hold one another accountable in working towards achieving whatever goals they’ve set for themselves and their teams. While we don’t follow a script for the conversation itself, we do believe managers and team members should be regularly making space for growth conversations (beyond just daily tactical work) in their 1:1s.

  • We take notes

All managers are encouraged to take notes on 1:1s, and there is a space in Lattice meant specifically for these notes. These notes are meant to be a historical reference tool, making it simple and straightforward to track career growth and progress when it comes to prepping for quarterly and annual reviews. That said, the primary focus of all 1:1s is the team member. If a manager is unable to both take notes and listen attentively during the conversation, we recommend managers jot down their notes after the conversation has ended. There is an option within Lattice for shared notes (viewable by team member and manager) or private notes. As a team that defaults to transparency, we encourage both managers and team members to use the shared notes feature. This is a great space to recap decisions, document outcomes and  next steps, or to provide further context for a talking point. Private notes are a good space for personal reminders, or talking points you may want to address in a future 1:1 but aren’t quite ready to share yet.

Team members are also encouraged to take notes, and there is likewise a space in Lattice for them! These notes are a great way to track your own progress, set reminders to yourself, and keep a record of feedback you’d like to share with your manager. 

In Conclusion

1:1s are meant to be a reflection of the individual relationship between a team member and their manager. The ultimate goal and purpose of these meetings is for the team member to feel supported both personally and professionally. The guidelines above are meant to be just that–guidelines! If a team member and their manager decide that something isn’t working for them, and they’d like to run their 1:1 in a slightly different way, they’re more than welcome to go for it. As long as the 1:1 happens every week, and serves the greater purpose of supporting and developing the team member both personally and professionally, we’re in a good place 🙂

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