Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Simple Management Tip: Tracking 1:1 Conversations

Here’s a quick tip I’ve found very handy.  When doing 1:1’s with your team (you are doing these regularly, right?), take notes to keep track of the conversations from week to week.  I currently use a 5-tab notebook with one tab for each direct report.  Each person has their own section.  Each week when we meet, I take notes on the next page in their section.  This makes it really easy to refer back to last week’s notes and follow up on any ongoing issues.  Each week I circle the items I need to follow up on the following week.  This makes it trivial to pick them out.  Having one section per person means the previous week is only one page back.  I tried just keeping a continuous set of notes on everyone, but then finding the last time we talked could be difficult. 

Another advantage of having each person in their own section is it provides a space for next week’s agenda.  During the week as things come up, I jot them down on the next week’s page.  Then when it comes time for the 1:1, I already have a list of items to follow up on.  This also helps stop my subconscious mind from dwelling on these items (ala Getting Things Done) because I know they will be handled.

I have also seen OneNote used successfully for this purpose, but I prefer not to have a laptop between myself and the other person in our meetings.  It is a matter of taste.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree on having notes for each person's 1:1 and leaving your laptop at your desk (I even suggest making 1:1's on informal places, like patios or even coffee shops).
    The only thing I can add here is around the coordination of the action items from the 1:1, how to make sure we both are synced with what was agreed?
    Personally, my 1:1's have 2 parts: The personal (non-work related part) that might be the most important part of the conversation; and the professional where we review things that relate to work but not to a specific project (that we do on regular project update meetings).
    For the second part I like having a short & informal email that goes out with the points reviewed and specially the action items for them.  It's not even a routine who sends them out, sometimes it's me and sometimes the employee, but this small coordination helps me to make sure there are no surprises when following up on AI's the next meeting.
    My 2 cents.