Today, digital technology and data are an integral part of every aspect of a business. Companies are constantly evaluating and upgrading their digital and data capabilities to be more productive, more customer-focused, and more secure, bringing about unprecedented transformation in the everyday workplace. One such transformation is the usage of data in business meetings. There was a time when 71% of managers and leaders reported meetings as ineffective and unproductive, according to an HBR study. With the help of data, however, such meetings can be transformed to use 80% less effort and drive twice the effectiveness of team performance.
As leaders and teams adapt to using data-driven business meetings for better productivity, it is time to orient the mindset of the management to adopt data as a cornerstone of effective 1:1 meetings. It is particularly important to prepare for and establish this transformation as companies step into the new world of hybrid work, where unprecedented challenges abound and data can be an anchor and a guide to drive resilience and agility.
What is a 1:1 meeting and why is it crucial for hybrid teams?
A one-on-one meeting is an exclusive time allocated for unrestricted and business-casual conversation between a manager and his/her direct reports. It provides an opportunity for managers to build rapport with their team members that will lead to better relationship-building, effective communication, and help build a cohesive team. Unlike other meetings, the 1:1 offers an opportunity for employees to talk about aspects of their personal lives such as goals, aspirations, or challenges, etc., that might have an effect on their work. It also provides an opportunity for managers to better themselves by asking for candid feedback and to create a space for coaching and mentoring their direct reports.
Such a meeting that emphasizes the people aspect of teams, rather than the jobs and tasks at hand, is integral in building team culture, rapport, and long-term relationships. This meeting becomes all the more crucial in building teams in a virtual world.
People are complex entities – they come with diverse personalities, work styles, goals, ideas, and aspirations. A good manager is one that can make the effort to understand the different personalities within their team and strategize the best work environment for each of them to thrive, both individually and in a team setting. In order to do this, traditionally, managers relied on the luxury of casual coffee chats, or the study of body language and social cues in a physical face-to-face meeting.
In a hybrid workplace, however, where such interactions might not be possible with the employees that are located remotely, the 1:1 meeting becomes crucial since it offers a rare chance to connect with direct reports on a more casual and personal agenda. As some or most employees work from dispersed locations and face-to-face interaction might not be a possibility with every member of the team, a one-on-one meeting provides a unique and important opportunity to create and nurture human relationships that can help build trust and camaraderie in a team.
Why are 1:1 meetings a challenge in the hybrid workplace?
Lack of visibility
Visibility is the ability to see the work and contribution of team members. It also enables managers to see working styles, personalities, and potential bottlenecks or areas of trouble for their direct reports. In a physical workplace, managers can physically see their team members’ everyday work lives. This visibility and understanding allow managers to structure 1:1 meetings that can address each individual’s goals, aspirations, challenges, and concerns.
However, in a remote workplace, managers might have to struggle with evaluating and recognizing not only the work and contributions of their remote reports but also understanding their personality traits and quirks.
No groove nor agenda
When managers and teams do not have data on the schedule, duration, or results of their 1:1 meetings, over time, they can lose the vision of the importance of the 1:1 itself. Additionally, when attempting to set an agenda for the 1:1, if managers do not have information about the everyday work performance and routines of their reports, it can lead to generic agendas that don’t cater to individual needs.
Remote 1:1s are susceptible to becoming unproductive if any of the many aspects of the meeting goes amiss. Starting at schedules and agendas, upto using the right feedback logs, or using real-time input to how teams are performing, etc., managers need to be equipped with the right quantitative information so that they can bring their insight and perspective into developing better teams. If 1:1s with remote teams aren’t structured to be a space for informed and genuine conversations, they can adversely affect the opportunity to raise concerns.
Data and app overload
In a remote workplace, most work activity is digital, inherently generating a large number of updates every hour that is hard for managers to keep up with. Consequentially, managers wind up spending a lot of time sifting through their team’s work and processes to be able to understand how their team members are doing individually or to recognize problem areas like burnout risk. This often leads to delayed interventions and becomes harder for managers to help their teams. Naturally, despite good intentions, the 1:1 starts seeming like a burden more than anything.