What is a 1on1 and why is it important?

A cursory Google search for how do one on one will provide a cornucopia of advice. There’s no shortage of templates, systems, strategies, and hacks for holding a one on one. Tools and techniques can be helpful, but we must start with the purpose of a 1on1.

1on1s are for building and maintaining personal relationships. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake. If you’re not meeting this minimum requirement you are wasting your time.

Personal relationships are important because they engender trust. Trust is important because it is the foundation of organizations (as covered earlier).

I struggle to offer advice on building and maintaining personal relationships. For some, relating to others is natural and effortless. For others, it’s a confounding puzzle. I am only sure of this limited advice:

  1. Care about the other person. If you can’t find a way to care, genuinely, then there’s not much you can do. Find a way to care about the other person and the rest will fall into place.
  2. Be authentic. Don’t try to fake your way into a relationship. Other people will know. Be yourself and be honest.
  3. Lean into the awkwardness. Say the thing or ask the question that you would rather avoid. Be so explicit that it makes you uncomfortable.

Additional Reading

Discussion Topics

  1. You have a new direct report with the personality of a rock. They don’t seem interested in anything. How would you start to build rapport with them?
  2. One of your direct reports has driven every 1on1 towards status updates. Is this bad? Why or why not?
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