10 Mistakes to Avoid during Remote One on One Meetings
Because of the Coronavirus spread, managers have to carry their work responsibilities like one on one meetings from a remote work setup. Read this blog to find out 10 mistakes that a manager could avoid during a remote one on one meeting.
A few months ago, we had not imagined a situation where most of the corporate world would go remote in the wake of a global health crisis all across the globe.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge drifts in the corporate world.
Working from home is a new reality and maintaining productivity as the world battles an invisible enemy is the biggest test right now.
Our workplaces have also been affected by the need for social distancing. In fact, a majority of the workforce has been thrust upon with a new work setup unexpectedly.
Adding to the dilemma is the anxiety regarding their family’s well-being and the future of humanity at large.
One on one meetings are an effective management tool to help your direct reports stay confident, relieved and effective.
Besides helping them in discharging their work duties, one on one meetings can also pave the way for better mental health and well-being during these difficult times.
However, conducting one on one meetings while you work from home can be challenging if you are new to the setup.
As it is a new experience for you, you are bound to face certain difficulties and make mistakes that are easily avoidable.
Hence we have listed here how to avoid some of the most common mistakes you are likely to make if you are still adapting to the remote work and holding your one on one meetings while working remotely.
Table of Contents Click to Show
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid During Remote One On One Meetings
- 1. Avoiding video call
- 2. Not setting agenda, collaboratively
- 3. Not being empathetic
- 4. Discussing work or status updates
- 5. Making the meeting about yourself
- 6. Not paying attention while listening
- 7. Not taking actions to address employees’ issues
- 8. Avoiding feedback
- 9. Rushing the one on one meeting
- 10. Shying Away from Mentoring
10 Mistakes to Avoid During Remote One On One Meetings
1Avoiding video call
In the case of one on one meetings, face-to-face conversations help in establishing trust and lifelong relationships. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, we are left with no option but to conduct one on one meetings virtually.
Thanks to technology, you can easily collaborate and exchange information using tech tools even during remote work.
However, what has been affected the most is the communication process.
Of course, there are 24/7 IM services and phone calls to keep one in the loop but they cannot compete with face-to-face conversations.
The subconscious hand movements or an earnest eye contact goes a long way in gauging a direct report’s state of mind.
Sadly, they tend to go missing as we speak on the phone.
In the words of Kim Scott, author of the book “ Radical Condor “ and a management guru
..about 90% of your feedback is non-verbal information.
Yet, you can counter this challenge by insisting on conducting a video conference for your one on one meeting.
Your teammates may prefer an audio call instead; it saves them the effort of being presentable and choosing the right space.
And, that is precisely why you should never omit video call during a one on one meeting.
The time spent in donning an ironed shirt and setting the laptop will help you and your direct report set the focus for a productive conversation.
Moreover, a video conferencing will also help you reap the benefit of non-verbal communication; albeit behind a screen.
Not to forget that it will help in breaking the monotony of the “quarantine life” as well.
2 Not setting agenda, collaboratively
A one on one meeting is equivalent to a power hour where you and your direct report can address performance issues, organizational challenges and bond with each other.
To ensure that this meeting is productive, you need to collaborate on setting an agenda beforehand.
Having a set agenda helps in streamlining your pain points and addressing them effectively.
It makes you and your direct report more focused and saves a lot of time which would otherwise be wasted in remembering the action items spontaneously.
Your direct report might have faced a problem 2 days ago but in the absence of an agenda, she may forget to bring it up during her one-on-one meetings.
This exercise of setting an agenda becomes even more crucial when a one on one meeting is remote or virtual. Admit it, we’re thrown into a situation we were not prepared for.
Naturally, it is difficult to gather one’s thoughts and feelings during this anxious time.
Moreover, a remote meeting is a new experience for you both. You may face a technical issue during the call or may have more distraction than the usual one on one meeting.
Having an agenda can have you ease out this baggage of added stress and anxiety.
PRO TIP: Try using a tool which can help you streamline your agenda, action items and even alert you before a meeting.
Effective One on One Meetings
We built a software that automatically schedules, lets you set agenda, take notes, exchange feedback and track actions – all in one place.
3 Not being empathetic
We are living under a global pandemic with an environment filled with uncertainties and questions. What the world needs right now is unity, brotherhood and care.
Your direct reports are going through the same stress.
Right now, the purpose of a one on one meeting has expanded. You can no longer restrict them to professional topics and discussions.
As a manager, you are responsible for your direct reports’ well-being and their state of mind as well.
During these tough times, you need to rebuild confidence in your direct reports’ mind.
One on one meetings are your arsenal to help your team win this war.
You could start your one on one meeting with the following icebreaker questions.
- How is your family doing?
- Are you taking care of your health?
- Do you have enough stock of essential commodities?
- Are you facing any issue where I can help?
You can also take help from free remote work tools designed to specifically facilitate one on one meetings.
You can use them to jot down important questions and set reminders during your one on one meeting.
4 Discussing work or status updates
If a one on one meeting had to be about the status of the ongoing projects, you wouldn’t need it in the first place. A one on one meeting is an open forum where your direct reports get to be candid with you.
This meeting is an opportunity to let them discuss what holds them back and what propels them ahead in the workplace.
As a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, professional relationships have also taken a new turn.
Collaborating with teammates and handling the work funnel is now different than how it used to be on the office floor.
Naturally, your direct reports must be having a full platter of topics to discuss with you.
Allow them to vent out their emotions and thoughts instead of just inquiring about the project status in your one on one meeting.
Let this time be your window to increase their long-term efficiency instead of getting the immediate task done.
PRO TIP: Ask them about the week gone by and if they faced any challenges in getting the work done because of the remote work setup.
5 Making the meeting about yourself
You may be the main lead of this project but you’re not the protagonist.
At least, as long as there’s a one on one meeting going on.
A one on one meeting is an opportunity for you to understand your direct reports better and make them feel valued.
In a one on one meeting, they are ( and should be) the center of attention.
If you prioritize your opinions over theirs and mansplain their conversation, the purpose of a one on one meeting is lost.
Especially during the times of this pandemic, you need to provide a safe space for your direct reports to find their rhythm back.
They’re surrounded by family responsibilities, work issues and stress about the health of their loved ones. It is very easy to lose motivation at such a time.
During one on one meetings, you can help them bounce back by allowing them to verbalize their complex emotions.
So, whenever you conduct your next remote one-on-one meeting, hold yourself back and dive deeper into your direct report’s psyche.
Pro Tip: Ask more open-ended questions and hold back your opinion. While you probe your direct reports, they will open up to you and feel more engaged.
6 Not paying attention while listening
According to Andy Stanley
Leaders who do not listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say
Active listening has been touted as one of the basic management skills.
One on one meetings are designed to bridge this gap between direct reports and managers. You can give your full attention and time to your direct report and they can put forward their views.
However, some managers do not use the potential of this meeting well by being inattentive.
This practice can be even more detrimental during the times of Coronavirus.
Your direct reports are operating from a different setup and are expected to be equally productive in their official responsibilities.
It is likely that their performance is getting affected and they may have deeper issues concerning that.
If you do not listen to their side of the story and jump to conclusions in your remote one on one meeting, it will deteriorate their performance further.
Moreover, they may even lose morale.
Hence, be attentive and lend a sympathetic ear to their problems. They need to be heard now more than ever.
Pro Tip: This isn’t an easy situation for you as well. You can share your experiences and how you dealt with them. This step will help you in solving their problems and keeping your cool simultaneously.
7 Not taking actions to address employees’ issues
Let us imagine that you’ve a direct report called Stella.
Stella has never worked from home before and she never expected to. Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, she had to start working from home.
It was a challenge for her as he didn’t have a stable internet connection. She mentioned the same to her manager in her one on one meeting and he promised to help her out.
No actions were taken thereafter and when she inquired about it in her next one-on-one meeting, her manager apologized and said that it slipped his mind.
She has now asked her neighbor to continue sharing his WiFi with her.
One on one meetings help you find out problems and develop action items to address them. If you don’t follow up on these, you lose your direct reports’ trust and their motivational drive.
As we all are trying to give our best during these trying times, things are going to be more difficult than usual.
Your direct reports depend on you for their guidance.
Hence, it is important to keep a check on your actions items and follow them up after every one on one meeting.
8 Avoiding feedback
There’s already enough tension prevailing in the world right now and you may decide to hold your feedback, especially if it’s constructive, to your direct report.
While this may help you in the short-term, sharing feedback is always better for the long haul.
Feedback is the backbone of effective communication and good leadership. It helps in shaping up performances and eradicating loopholes.
In fact, most direct reports eagerly wait for their feedback as it forms the basis of their future actions.
In times like these, they are even more unsure about how they are faring professionally. Avoiding feedback may cause more confusion.
On the other hand, constructive feedback will make them believe that you care about their performance.
Thus, ensure that feedback is an important part of your next remote one on one meetings.
Here’s how you can provide feedback in a less stressful way –
- Ask them for their feedback on their performance. “How would you rate your performance? Do you think there’s a better way to do it”?
- Let them know that their mistakes can be improved upon. “That mistake is completely avoidable and I know you can do it. All you need to do is be more attentive.”
- Tell them there’s always another chance. “So, next time when a similar situation arises.”. Or “How would you tackle this the next time”
- Share experience with them. “You know; I did the same thing once.” Or “I know of someone who had a similar problem”
9 Rushing the one on one meeting
You might have the experience of conducting many one on one meetings but holding it in a remote setup is a new experience.
Setting up the connection and using a new tool may extend your meeting.
However, these technical details shouldn’t lead to a rushed conversation. All of these efforts are taken to facilitate a fruitful one-on-one conversation between you and your direct reports.
Thus, your concentration should be on using your time in a one on one meeting well.
Expediting the discussion and overlooking important points will reduce the impact of your efforts.Hence, having patience and being supportive of your direct report should be your priority.
Pro Tip: Discuss all the technical requirements beforehand along with your agenda and block more time than usual for your remote one on one meeting.
10Shying Away from Mentoring
A leader’s biggest identifier is how well she builds up her people.
There’s no time more pertinent than now to become the source of strength of your direct reports. They are relying on you to guide them and hold their ground.
You can use your one on one meetings to let them know that you’re there for them in these tough times.
You can motivate them to grow their skill sets and become more effective at their work.
They’re surrounded by troubling news; be their source of optimism and help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Pro tip: Ask them to disregard any rumor about layoffs and future of the company. Discuss the plan with them and value their opinion
One on one meetings can become your trusted aide to help your team weather the storm of Covid-19.
What is required from your end is patience, empathy and a helping hand.
This uncertain situation can become the turning point of your relationship with your direct reports. You can strengthen your role as a reliable leader and a trusted guide.
The simplest way to do so is by developing bonds through effective one-on-ones.
PS: Read the ‘Remote Manager’s Guide to Productive & Motivated Teams’ HERE.
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