Managers, particularly new managers, often worry about meeting with employees. This is because they may not always feel comfortable when it comes to talking with the employees one-on-one about difficult issues. They might try to push off the meeting until later, or they might cancel it entirely. This doesn’t do your organization any good, and it doesn’t help your employee or manager.

Although meeting with employees can sometimes feel nerve-wracking, it is often just as stressful for the other party. What you want to do to make things easier is take as much guesswork out as possible. Be prepared and use the following tips. They can help to make your meetings go a lot easier. You will learn how to prepare for the meeting and get the most out of it. This will be beneficial for you and your employees.

Before Holding the Meeting

This is the stage where you will do a little bit of research to get ready for the one-on-one. Make sure you have a file on each of the employees and that you know who they are, what they do, etc. When you are a new manager with a new team, this can be difficult, but after a couple of full rounds of meetings, it will be a lot easier. You will know the employees.

Keep in mind that you are going to meet with the employees for both good and bad discussions. When they are doing poorly and need to improve their performance, you have to let them know, and you need to do so tactfully. It might be a difficult conversation, but you must power through it. Both you and your employee will benefit.

Of course, you will also hold meetings when things are going well, and the employee is doing a good job. Let them know that you are happy with how they are doing, and don’t try to search for something negative about the employee just so they have something to work on. Only talk about actual problems.

Also, you need to make sure you are focusing on the work, not an employee’s personality. Not everyone is going to get along and like one another’s personalities, but we all have to work together and be respectful.

Set Your Agenda and Have a Plan

There needs to be some sort of reason for the meeting. You need to have an idea of what is happening with your team, so you can use the one-on-one meetings effectively. Before You even schedule the meeting, you need to consider what you want to discuss, the challenges the employee is facing, and what can be done to correct them.

Managers will also need to come up with a plan to correct issues the employee is having. If you have an idea of how to fix the problem, you can ensure the worker has steps they can take to make those improvements. Of course, when you start to talk with your employees, you might also find they have a few ideas on how to make things right. In some cases, they could have a great idea that you didn’t think of before, so don’t dismiss them.

Meeting with Employees

Schedule the Meeting

Once you have a goal for the meeting, you will then need to make sure that you schedule it at a time that works for you, the team member, and the company. Keep in mind things like deadlines and schedules and try to find a window where you can have the meeting without being interrupted. This is sometimes easier said than done.

Holding the Meeting

When you hold the meeting, the first thing you should do is check in with the employee. How are they feeling and how are you feeling? What’s happening at work and outside of work? You want to make it feel like a conversation and not an interrogation. The meeting should never feel adversarial or frightening for the employee. Build trust with them and be the first to share.

Next, you will want to get some updates on the employee objectives if you’ve had a meeting with the employee in the past. These would be the actionable items that you put in place during the last meeting. They will likely include any tasks that support the employee’s goals.

Discuss the Challenges

Talk about the challenges they are facing. Employees might have concerns about their job, and they could need some clarification on certain matters. Listen to what they have to say about the challenges they have to deal with and then help them to see how they can turn those issues into potential learning opportunities. Work together to solve the problem rather than just telling them what to do. When you work on a problem together, you can essentially coach the employee and help them to grow and develop. It will also help to build trust.

Of course, you also need to be sure you are setting clear goals and expectations with them. They need to be held accountable for making positive changes that will help their performance and your organization as a whole.

Try to Have Some Positive News

You should also remember the importance of positivity. Try to find good things to discuss when it comes to their performance, as well, not just the negatives. It won’t soften the blow of any negative news, but it will give them an idea of where they are excelling, and it can help their confidence.

Talk About Morale

Employee morale and overall team morale can’t be ignored. You will want to get an idea of how the overall morale is in your workplace when meeting with employees. Pushing the importance of performance over morale and health is a bad idea. Your employees are going to burn out and come to resent your company, which will then lower productivity and cause a host of other problems. Ask your employee how they and their teammates are feeling and if there are any issues. Look for signs of low morale and then implement ways to boost it.

Provide Coaching Notes and Advice

You will want to provide the employees with actionable advice that they can take and implement to make improvements in areas that needed it. Providing coaching notes to the employee and keeping a copy for yourself for the follow-up meeting will be helpful.

You want to provide help and advice where needed, but you don’t want to do everything for the employee. Giving them the coaching that they need, and even some ideas on how to follow through is important, but you also have to let them think about how to solve some problems on their own. This will help them to grow.

Be Consistent

You want to make sure you are consistent with your meetings, at least as much as your schedule can allow. You don’t want to hold one-on-ones for a few months only to skip several months before having another one. Consistency is important for ensuring employee growth and improvement. You want to create good, effective feedback loops that will help to build the strongest team possible. Once you get into a rhythm with your meetings, try to stick to it.

Do You Need More Training?

The steps we discussed above will prove helpful when it comes to improving your meetings with the staff. However, you might feel more comfortable if you had some additional training. Find classes on management, coaching, etc., and use them to develop professionally. A little training can go a long way in helping you gain more confidence for meeting with employees and with upper management for that matter.

How Often Should You Have One-on-One Meetings?

There is not a hard and fast answer for this, as the need can vary from one company to the next. It could even vary within departments in the company. You will want to talk with other managers at work to see how often they conduct the meetings. Unless there is a firm policy in place on the number of meetings, you can hold them as you see fit.

Of course, you don’t want to err on either side. You don’t want to wait until it’s time for the performance reviews, but you also don’t want to have meetings multiple times a week. Consider the number of employees you need to have meetings with and the scope of those meetings to determine how often you should have them and how long the meetings should be. Shorter is typically better, as they have other work to do, but that’s not always possible.

Don’t Get Stressed

Don’t let meetings with employees stress you out too much. Sure, it can be a little intimidating at first, but you are the manager, and you know what you are doing. Take a breath before you bring someone in for the first meeting and remember to relax. After you have done a few of these, you will find that it starts to become a lot easier.