Project planning. Performance reviews. Onboarding interviews. Many situations call for a 1 on 1 meeting with a manager, coworker, or employee. But when some or all of your company works on a remote basis, you need to consider some additional factors for how to run effective virtual meetings.
In this guide, you’ll find a detailed breakdown of how 1 on 1 meetings benefit your business and how to effectively adapt these meetings to a virtual office setting.
3 Reasons Why Virtual 1-on-1 Meetings Are Vital To Your Organization
Virtual team huddles, town halls, and other group communication formats are, of course, crucial for quickly bringing as many people as possible up to speed and keeping them on the same page when it comes to company objectives, new developments, and performance expectations.
What’s all-too-easily lost in these larger-scale discussions, though, is the human element.
#1 Strengthening Investment in Individuals
That’s what makes 1-on-1 discussions so critical to an organization’s communication needs.
When you can cultivate a strong relationship on an individual level, you can cut through the noise and more easily focus on what’s important:
- Who plays a role in the productivity of your team?
- What’s important to them about the work your team is doing?
- What do they need to better help your team?
This kind of discussion communicates to the person you’re talking to that your work, your team’s work, and their work all matter to you. It encourages higher effort, greater investment of resources, and better results going forward.
#2 Improve Team Cohesion
If you’re put in charge of a specific team within your company, you need to evaluate:
- Expectations in place for your team
- Current and potential members of your team
- Resources at your disposal
Various types of 1-on-1 meetings are an essential part of reaching your team’s short and long-term goals within the timeframe you’ve been given. You’ll need to conduct them with:
- Team members: Keep in close contact with every employee on your team to make sure their skills, efforts, and mindset are aligned with the team’s overall needs and goals.
- Other managers: No individual team operates productively in a silo. You need to meet individually with other team leaders whose objectives intertwine with yours.
- Upper management: You’re the voice of your team within the company, and 1-on-1 meetings with higher-level managers allow you to speak for their skills and needs.
#3 Support Employee Morale
When you take a more personal approach to employee communication, you also improve their outlook on the organization as a whole.
In a company-wide or team meeting, it’s hard for anyone to feel genuinely seen or heard by other employees or managers. Group meetings like these often involve a few speakers presenting to a big, silent crowd, without much meaningful input from anyone in particular.
Even when 1-on-1 meetings with manager-level staff do happen, they can be nerve-wracking for an employee at first, especially if they don’t know what exactly to expect. But a personal recurring meeting can make them feel great about where they work, lead to job satisfaction, and motivate them to achieve the short and long-term goals set for your team.
You can make a team meeting a positive experience by:
- Setting well-established conduct expectations
- Encouraging open communication during the meeting
- Highlighting employee performance and skills
- Providing constructive feedback
How to Adapt Your Meetings to a Virtual Format
Whether it’s physical or virtual, the ingredients of a positive, productive 1-on-1 meeting are no different. There are certain considerations, though, worth keeping in mind to prevent unnecessary issues from disrupting what could otherwise be a successful conversation.
These additional concerns are mainly logistical. A distributed workforce can operate in many time zones at once and follow varied schedules. Technology also sometimes fails, presenting problems that can derail meetings of any size.
At the same time, a virtual 1-on-1 meeting presents opportunities unavailable in an in-person meeting. When your remote employees meet, you have greater access to powerful secondary resources that can enhance your ability to get your message across and personally connect.
Step 1: Stay on Top of Scheduling
The most important part of making a remote 1-on-1 meeting work is to make sure it’s scheduled at a convenient time for both yourself and the person you’re speaking with. It may sound simple, and in theory, it should be easier when it’s as simple as joining a virtual meeting space at the right time.
If you’ve set a meeting time without actually finding out what works for the other person, though, or they’ve failed to communicate potential issues on their end that could cause delays, you may find scheduling to be more problematic than expected.
Step 2: Be Cognizant of Their Environments
If you’re running a 1-on-1 meeting in a digital setting, it pays to be considerate of the physical setting your team member is in.
After all, remote work has opened up new possibilities for the business world—but it’s also let a little bit of the personal into that professional realm. Small children might wave hello from the background of a video call. Meetings might be taken in the kitchen or the hall when a roommate or partner has reserved the spare room for their own meetings. Conversations that coincide with pet feeding times might result in a few extra barks or meows on the line.
When you’re managing a 1-on-1 meeting, that session may be a vulnerable space for your teammate. Help them feel comfortable by staying cognizant of their physical space and individual circumstances. You can do this by:
- Asking what times of day they prefer to have meetings
- Letting them know it’s okay to schedule meetings around home tasks that can’t be rescheduled
- Offering different options for how the 1-on-1 meeting can take place, either through various softwares or even just on the phone
Step 3: Set Expectations
Open communication shouldn’t happen just during the meeting. When first setting a meeting agenda, make sure the when, where, and why of the discussion are as clear as possible for both of you.
Check these items off to ensure you’re keeping communication lines open:
- Sending an email with an agenda and goals of the conversation ahead of time
- Detailing in the invitation the medium in which you’ll conduct the meeting (Zoom, Google Hang, etc)
- Keeping a running log of call notes and an action item you both can access
Step 4: Don’t Forget The Personal Touch
Businesses have certainly heaped the rewards of remote employees. However, a few of the personal touches may have gotten lost along the way. Water cooler conversations or spontaneous chats over the coffeemaker are harder to come by when a business resides entirely online.
Make a point to have casual conversations on your 1-on-1 to help put your teammate at ease, build trust, and establish rapport. Even if it’s just the first five minutes of your chat, a little time spent building a strong relationship beyond the scope of work will go a long way in boosting morale, confidence, and job satisfaction.
Step 5: Plan and Co-Work with Helpful Secondary Tools
In many ways, virtual 1-on-1 meetings are much more effective than in-person discussions.
It’s easier to incorporate tools for visual reference in virtual communications in general. Slideshow presentations, for instance, are a common part of group meetings of any size. But a call between just two people opens up even more opportunities for additional, more interactive applications.
1-on-1 meetings are particularly ideal for co-working tools like taking notes in shared spaces and organizational apps. These can:
- Help leaders of different teams collaborate and plan shared initiatives
- Allow team leaders to keep track of engagement, objectives, and concerns of your individual team member
- Allow company management to record the needs and goals of individual teams in discussions with team leaders
Run Better Virtual 1-on-1 Meetings with Teamflow
Productive 1-on-1 meetings are critical to your company’s success. When you run them through Teamflow, you’ll have access to a dedicated meeting space with shared notes to track every important point for both sides of the discussion.
Bring a personal touch back to your meetings with Teamflow’s virtual events and office space. Get started with Teamflow for free now!
Reviewed by Florent Crivillo, CEO and Founder at TeamFlow
Florent Crivello is the Founder and CEO of Teamflow, a virtual office that helps remote and hybrid teams do their best work in the best way. In a former life, Flo was the Head of Product for Uber Works, where he experienced firsthand the difficulties of managing a distributed and remote workforce. Following that experience, Flo conceived, coded, and launched the first version of Teamflow in early 2020. Since then, he's raised $50m in funding from top-flight venture capitalists including Menlo Ventures, Battery, and Coatue to revolutionize the way we work. In his spare time, Flo is a contributing writer to Forbes magazine.
1. Harvard Business Review. How to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive. https://hbr.org/2016/08/how-to-make-your-one-on-ones-with-employees-more-productive
2. The Nonprofit Technology Enterprise Network. 9 best practices for engagement in virtual meetings. https://www.nten.org/article/9-best-practices-engagement-virtual-meetings/