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How to Boost Employee Retention Through One-on-Ones

Between developing a culture, motivating your team, and providing crucial feedback, it’s easy to see why one-on-one meetings are becoming a primary means of communication for people leaders in modern workplaces. Sitting down with your team members individually will be much more impactful than arranging boardroom meetings for updates.

One-on-ones seem simple on the surface, but there’s a lot that goes into really nailing them. Getting them right is important, as it’s the difference between enabling/aligning your workforce and just wasting their time. You’ll know when you’ve hit a great stride with your weekly meetings – you might even see it reflected in your company’s productivity. 

While these meetings are traditionally filed under the “performance management” category of leadership, running exceptional one-on-ones can significantly boost employee retention and engagement. When your team enjoys sitting down with their supervisors and communicating effectively, every part of your workplace benefits.

There are countless tips, tricks and techniques to developing a perfect groove for your one-on-ones. Of course, everyone works and leads differently, so certain lists will sync better with certain leaders. To remedy that, we simply created a comprehensive scroll of pieces of advice that you can weave into your meetings. There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re a leader or an employee yourself.

  • Start personally – Even if it’s just one or two questions, get them comfortable by asking about their day and how everything’s been going lately. It’s great for trust, and you might even get to hear some funky stories.
  • Bring your own checklist – Right before you start, make sure you have a short agenda of things you want to discuss and assign. It doesn’t have to be long or in-depth, but you’ll be kicking yourself if you forget to mention something pressing.
  • Ask for updates – Find out how they’re progressing on projects, tasks and their general responsibilities. Once you’re in a rhythm of weekly meetings, these should tie back in with what you discussed the prior week.
  • Listen – No matter what you’re talking about, this team member is the priority during this meeting. Listen intently to what they have to say, and feel free to even take notes on some of the more relevant points they mention. They’ll feel respected and heard.
  • Applaud achievements – Your team member will (probably) have made good strides this week and finished some things up; always make sure to recognize their success and give them that metaphorical pat on the back.
  • Suggest ways to go above and beyond – Simply “meeting expectations” isn’t good enough in your company culture! Motivate them to go the extra mile and suggest ways they can blow you away by your next meeting.
  • Discuss challenges and solutions – On the other hand, you can ask them if they had any struggles or ran into roadblocks during the week. It’s an opportunity to give them advice on how to conquer such problems going forward, and they’ll feel grateful for the help.
  • Never skip constructive criticism – If you let poor performance/behavior go unaddressed, it can become a larger problem down the road. Nip it in the bud and mention anything they need to fix right away.
  • Give them company updates – Letting your team in on organizational news that’s more internal is an underrated way to improve employee engagement. They’ll feel more in-the-know, and that kind of news often contextualizes what they’re doing and why.
  • Ask for feedback/suggestions – You care about your team’s morale, and there’s no better way to demonstrate that than asking them what they think about their work experience, and perhaps even the way you lead. Letting them speak on anything that’s bothering them makes them feel like a priority and gives you the chance to make some quick changes to address them. You won’t find a better driver of employee retention than that.
  • Plan ahead – Discuss any upcoming events, projects, or responsibilities that this team member will be called upon to handle and help make a plan for how they should tackle them. Creating an unofficial outline for the week keeps people organized and aligned.
  • Assign at least one task – Similarly, it’s always helpful to suggest something concrete to do by either the end of the day or the next day so the person has something to focus on. Sometimes a meeting might end with nothing pressing but a distant expectation, and the employee could find themselves directionless.
  • Make it a routine – Find out what cadence works best, depending on the size of your team and everyone’s schedules. If you have a smaller crew, holding weekly half-hour meetings at scheduled blocks is a great way to keep weeks consistent and give a structure to your office’s workflow.
  • Don’t stretch for time – Lastly, if you’ve slotted 30 minutes for each meeting, that doesn’t mean you have to find ways to reach that mark. Sometimes you’ll be able to cover everything you need to in 15-20 minutes, and that’s great! Let them know their time is important to you and set them free.

Mastering one-on-one meetings isn’t as simple as some think, but when you concentrate on making the best of them, they can be a powerful way to engage your team while managing their performance. It’s one of the most important employee engagement strategies you can develop alongside your team.  Go forth armed with your favorite tips!

We’re not done yet!

We’ve got plenty more resources on building the best workforce from the bottom to the top. Take a look at our e-book on Mastering the Employee Experience, or our 10 HR Strategies For the Retention Crisis piece, as told by experts from all sorts of industries. All of our resources can be found in our Library – check them out here! To see HelloTeam in action, click here — and to set up a meeting with us, go here!

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