1. Get the Right Mindset
Each conversation should be flexible enough to accommodate topics that are top of mind for both sides. It can be useful to have a shared collaborative space to keep track of upcoming topics to discuss and help both managers and their direct report better prepare for a more effective conversation. Don't overthink the meeting, as it’s meant to be a discussion. As a peer your role is to coach and support while ensuring your employees remain the focus of the conversation. To help keep it informal, you could go on a walking meeting, have a coffee, or meet for breakfast. Sometimes having meetings outside of the formal office environment can help your direct reports feel more comfortable discussing certain topics.
2. Promote a Recurring Schedule
Most of the time things come up and schedules change but instead of canceling the 1:1 do your best to reschedule it. For 1-on-1s to be effective they need to happen regularly. Once you’ve agreed to a time, ensure 1:1s are scheduled and added as a recurring meeting into the calendar, this is a subtle but clear way to show that they are invested in the 1:1 relationship and that they will consistently make time for the individual. Cancelling can send the message that the meeting isn’t important, when in fact, it’s the cornerstone of your relationship with your direct report.
3. Keep it Simple
Important topics can include the current goals and their progress, recent feedback, recognition, mid and end of year performance review reports, career aspirations, etc. 1-on-1 agendas should be collaborative, managers should encourage direct reports to share what they would like to discuss. Calendar Docs work here but get messy over time, so it can be valuable to provide the tools to make it easy to have regular and valuable meetings week after week.