The Most Important Meetings in your Week

John Svelnis,   Board Member

John Svelnis,

Board Member

In any given three-month span, your most critical meeting may very well be your quarterly board read-out, or perhaps a leadership offsite where you discuss the innovation IT is driving to increase market share.   I am here to tell you within each of those individual thirteen weeks, as an IT Leader, your 1x1s with your direct reports are your most important meetings.  While these meetings are critical regardless of level, I believe they grow in importance as you move up within the organization, as you transition from managing work to managing people to managing people managers.

Why are they your most important weekly meetings?  They help you build the relationships with your directs, and those improved relationships drive both the development of your team and the results for which both you and your team are accountable.   Rare is the conversation, let alone repeated conversations, that hits that daily double. 

The Internet is littered with white papers, articles, and podcasts on the structure and logistics of 1x1s.  My take is that what is critical for these conversations to be effective, is what these discussions do not become:  Specifically, that they become neither project readouts, nor venues to focus solely on topics you, as the manager, want to cover. As it relates to the former point, this is not to say key project updates should not be discussed at all, they absolutely should. The trick is ensuring that time is allocated for longer horizon topics, such as career development, to be covered.  As it relates to the latter point, as the boss, there will always be opportunities for you to solicit responses to the open questions you have - how long does it take for your directs to return a text, call, or email on a hot item?  Maybe the question that better drives this point home is how long does it take you to return a text, call, or email to your boss when she has a question on a hot item?   Not long, I suspect.  Your direct having an established outlet to comfortably raise points of discussion is what is important - strong professional relationships are not forged with one side living full time in response mode to the questions of the other.

If you are not holding 1x1s with your direct reports on regular and frequent basis (bi-weekly can be effective as well), you are missing an opportunity to maximize the value your team drives to the organization.   If your direct reports are not having similar conversations with their directs, a similar chance to improve exists.