How to Have a 1 on 1 with a Staff Member

Staff Member Meetings Made Easy

by Ben Crawshaw

One-on-ones can often create anxiety for both the supervisor and employee.

Bosses wonder…

What in the world are we going to talk about?

Is there a way I can postpone this meeting?

What can I do that would be helpful to this employee?

Employees worry…

Am I going to be in trouble?

Am I living up to my boss’s standards?

Have I done everything that I was supposed to do?

Here are five ways you can get past that anxiety and establish one-on-ones that will be a good use of everyone’s time.

  1. Set The Groundwork.

First, designate a place to store information for each employee. Everyone who directly reports to you should have their own document, spreadsheet, notepad, or journal (Here’s a great example of a journal: Use it to keep an ongoing checklist of things to talk about. Also, it will help you remember significant things that are happening in your employees’ lives.

  • Personal Life. Take some initial time to check on your staff member as a human being. Ask questions that pertain to their life outside of work. How is their wife or husband? Parents? Kids? How is their softball team or fantasy football team? Find out what they love and ask about it. This will show that you care about what they love outside of work, and that’s a really big deal. It shows that they’re more than just an “employee” to you.
  • Spiritual Life. Next, ask the staff member about their relationship with God. Checking on your staff prompts them to reflect on how they’re actually doing in this area. Instead of approaching them with guilt, however, approach them from the standpoint of care and concern. It can be draining to work in a church. It’s vital for your staff to make their spiritual life a top priority.
  • Work Life. Use this time to ask your staff member how you can help them. Do they have any relational tensions that they need to discuss? Ask if there’s anything you can do to better support them. When you ask questions like this, it helps you identify ways to make the job better for the people you lead. Anytime you can do that as a boss, it’s a win!

2. Set The Agenda.

  • When you’re prepared for this meeting ahead of time, your staff notices. They will appreciate the fact that you took time to get ready. Ask about the three areas mentioned above to guide the conversation. Always have something practical and tangible that an employee can work on. Most likely they will be open and receptive to having an action item to walk away with. And it will be good for them and you in the long run.

3. Set The Expectation.

  • When your employees aren’t clear about what you want, misconceptions can sink in. Things get lost in translation. Be direct about what you’d love for them to do. Give clear steps. Most employees want to make their boss happy. But that’s impossible if they don’t know what you want. Your employees will never perfectly meet all of your expectations. But clear communication will always trump silent expectations.

4. Set The Time.

– Put a time on the calendar and make it permanent. Try hard to avoid canceling at all costs. Whether you meet with them every week, month, or quarter, guard that time (the newer they are to your staff, the more frequently you may want to meet). The more your employees know that they are a priority, the easier it will be to guide and direct them.

5. Set The Example.

  • Pray for your employees at the end of one-on-ones. Pray for their personal life, spiritual life, and work life. Pray about the specific things they said when you asked them about each of these areas. When you do this, it once again reinforces that you care about your employees. And it sets an example for them to care about the people they lead.

For more great information on how to develop your staff members, check out the Staff Development System.