To Manage = To Empower

“Its (one-on-one) main purpose is mutual teaching and exchange of information.”   - Andy Grove [1]

I first ran into one-on-one meetings in the famed High Output Management by Andy Grove. It’s a meeting in which a manager meets with their direct report. If you are a knowledge worker, you have these meetings either as the direct report or as the manager. Running a good one-on-one meeting is the tangible thing you can do to grow as a leader in your organization.

 “In striving to help others grow, we grow too.”   - Daisaku Ikeda [2].

In my first job, I would always be waiting for my manager to reach out to me and ask me questions. It took me a few years to realize how limited in scope my one-on-one meetings were. I would talk about compensation and vacation, but I rarely spoke about my career and never about how I felt about the different situations.  My first management role was at my own company, There I started doing one-on-ones with an intent to understand what my team wants. We discussed their job, their career, their immigration challenges and many more topics. My role was to guide them on their journey. Helping my team and myself through one-on-ones was two birds with one stone.

“Someone can be extremely smart, knowledgeable, and a joy to be around, but if they don't deliver on time or to the standard expected, they'll lose trust quickly.” - Anne Raimondi [3].

To help your direct report the first step is to cultivate trust. To build trust one needs to work on credibility, reliability, authenticity and self-interest. The fastest way to build credibility is to ask questions in your one-on-one meetings. Simple things like being on time, not canceling meetings without reason and following up on promises help build reliability. Sharing relevant context and being direct with unpleasant information reflects authenticity. Self-interest shows up when you misrepresent your direct report. It happens outside your one-on-one and people are good at catching it. Start building trust in your next one-on-one.

When you go into your next one-on-one meeting, think about how you can grow trust.  It’s the bedrock of a healthy professional relationship. If something is uncomfortable for you, learn how to deal with it to benefit your direct report or team. One of my direct reports shared with me, “I was a little apprehensive about the regular one on ones. Now, I find them very insightful, to understand the direction and how our team fits into the bigger picture.” One-on-ones get easier the more you practice.  Building strong working relationships takes time. Enjoy the messy process of your team and your growth.

[1] Andy Grove, High Output Management

[2]  Daisaku Ikeda, New Human Revolution Vol. 8

[3] Anne Raimondi, Use This Equation to Determine, Diagnose, and Repair Trust