5 Mistakes to Avoid during Remote One on One Meetings

5 Mistakes to Avoid during Remote One on One Meetings

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.

At this point, all they need is support, reassurance and reinforcement of faith in their abilities.

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.

5 Mistakes to Avoid During Remote One On One Meetings

1 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.

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.

An agenda ensures that your discussion is comprehensive and results in problem-solving and improvement tactics.

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.

bulbPRO TIP: Try using a tool which can help you streamline your agenda, action items and even alert  you before a meeting. 

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2 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. 

bulbPRO 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.

3 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.

bulbPro 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.

4 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.

Yet, employees believe that their ideas are not valued by their managers.

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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.

bulbPro 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.

5 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.

bulbPro Tip: Discuss all the technical requirements beforehand along with your agenda and block more time than usual for your remote one on one meeting.

Wrapping Up

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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5 Mistakes to Avoid during Remote One on One Meetings