One-to-one meetings can be a difficult event for managers. It's likely that you have important things to get through and many of them may not be the most exciting. This means that engagement levels can drop significantly, and you can feel like you're talking to yourself.
This becomes even more problematic if you have the added difficulty of having employees in different offices or people that work from home.
However, there are 6 ways you can encourage them to be more engaged with their professional development and one-to-one meetings in general.
1. Have a plan and stick to it
To get the most from any employee, you need to give them the opportunity to think about the topic. Often, professional development is at the bottom of people's priorities in their day-to-day role as they naturally focus on their workload. Create a development plan that will keep track of goals, actions, problems, and decisions that need taking.
2. Set goals
Allowing people to have as much say over the direction of their development is a key part of achieving high levels of engagement. Of course, if someone's performance is poor, you'll need to set targets to improve this but broadly speaking each individual should be able to have a big influence on the goals for the future. They should also be able to make progress on their current goals, which can be a discussion point during your one-to-one.
3. Identify actions
In order to achieve goals or make progress towards them, you need to identify the steps that need to be taken. Most of these will probably be done by the employee themselves, but creating an actionable list allows them to tangibly see what they need to do to make progress. It's likely that some actions will also be assigned to you, for you to monitor or sign off.
4. Solve problems
These may be issues that are preventing them from working efficiently, realizing their goals or problems they're having with co-workers. The development plan is a safe place to put down these concerns and try to come up with solutions for them.
5. Record decisions
Anything that has been decided during the meeting should also be written down. It's a good way to summarize what may have been quite a lengthy discussion and ensure both of you have understood the outcomes. This is usually a good time to run over the goals for next time and the actions that need to be taken by both of you.
6. Follow up on your plan
Once the development plan is in place, you need to make sure you are regularly updating it to track progress. This can be done by the employee themselves or by line managers but it's important that it's an evolving document to monitor professional development and skill enhancement, as well as the progress being made by managers to support employees.