Unlock your career's potential with effective 1:1 meetings

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When it comes to professional growth, one question often looms large

What should I discuss in my 1:1 meetings? I often have nothing beyond project updates.

This is a common concern, and it's crucial to recognise that a 1:1 meeting is more than just a status update session. It's an opportunity to connect with your manager, discuss your progress, and express your thoughts and concerns.

How to Effectively Prepare for a 1:1

Preparation is key to making the most of your 1:1 meetings. Not only does it demonstrate professionalism, but it also maximises the value of your time.

Taking notes during(or just after) the 1:1 is pivotal for several reasons. It demonstrates active engagement, aids in retaining essential points, and serves as a reference for future discussions. You can easily look at your notes and if for example, you havent spoken about professional growth for a while, you can focus on those questions in the next 1:1.

I like to have at least 3-5 prepared topics using the questions below as prompts.

Review Previous Meeting

  • Have I made any progress on the action items from the last 1:1?
  • Are there any action items from the last 1:1 that I need to follow up with my supervisor?

Brief Project Updates

Limit project updates to 1 or 2 minutes unless it's the primary focus. Remember, 1:1s aren't project status meetings.

  • Is the project status on or off track?
  • Are there any noteworthy highlights or progress updates (that were not already covered in standups or elsewhere)?

Share Wins

  • What were my key achievements since the last 1:1? Highlight accomplishments that have moved me or the team forward.
  • What went exceptionally well?

Identify Challenges

  • Are there any decisions I can't make independently and require input?
  • Are there current issues I want to see resolved in the coming months?
  • Are there any interpersonal tensions with colleagues that I would like to address proactively?
  • Are there aspects of team dynamics that concern me?
  • What could have gone better?

Discuss Career Growth and Professional Development

  • Share any feedback I have received from colleagues or clients.
  • Are there any opportunities I am interested in?
  • Am I happy with my current project?
  • Do I feel like I’m learning? Are there things I feel like I’m not learning that I would like to?
  • Request feedback on recent projects or tasks and inquire about areas for improvement. (Note: It's often better to ask for feedback immediately after an event, as waiting until the 1:1 might be too late.)
  • Explore which skills I should focus on developing for my current role and future roles.
  • Ask what I could do differently or what behaviours my supervisor doesn't appreciate.
  • Inquire about anything I should start doing or stop doing.

Flip the Conversation

  • Find out my supervisor's top priorities.
  • Ask about any concerns or worries regarding the team.
  • Explore how I can better support my supervisor.

Backup Questions

Use this section only when there's nothing else to discuss, and there's time.

  • Share any interesting updates, lessons, or personal achievements.

Share Your 1:1 Experiences and Tips

Navigating 1:1 meetings might seem daunting initially, but effective preparation, thoughtful questions, and diligent follow-ups can help make it easier. Remember, there's no such thing as a perfect 1:1 meeting.

We're all on a learning journey, and your experiences and tips are invaluable. Have you discovered other effective ways to prepare for 1:1s? Are there additional questions that have proven helpful for you? How do you ensure you follow up on action items?

Share your experiences and insights in the comments below. Your wisdom could be just what I or another reader needs to excel in their 1:1 meetings!