Author Topic: What to say during weekly one on one with manager  (Read 3411 times)

mozar

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What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« on: September 06, 2017, 04:52:13 PM »
Back for more work advice!
My manager says that he wants us to have a weekly meeting where I can talk about" whatever I want for 20 minutes including work obstacles, hobbies, family etc." I would like to invest in a positive relationship with him. I've never had a positive relationship with a manager, it's always been fear based. I have 6 years until full FIRE. I would rather not quit or be fired. This meeting is in lieu of a yearly review. I have no idea what to say. Any advice?

BiochemicalDJ

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2017, 04:57:40 PM »
Three good questions you can always ask your manager are the following:
  • What would you like me to keep doing?
  • What would you like me to stop doing?
  • What would you like me to start doing?

If you've got a handle on asking those three, then you should be OK for keeping a finger on the pulse of your boss/employee relationship. Other ways you can phrase this include 'Is there anything I should change about what I'm doing?'

Goldielocks

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2017, 05:00:30 PM »
State 3 things you worked on this week, and 3 things that you plan to complete next week.
Ask your boss what he has been working on, as well, then just start asking him/her more and more questions. 

He / she likely gets involved with more departments and has a better understanding of what is going on.   Keep them talking about themselves (their work).  Ask what their largest challenges are.   This is important stuff for you to know, as it helps you better plan what tasks or projects you will ask to work on in future, or be able to flag the priority issues earlier.

In other words - just start talking about business, then have your boss do the talking.  After a couple of meetings, it may evolve into discussing other topics naturally, such as when you say: "I need to leave early next wednesday because my spouse is accepting an award"... to which the reply is : "Oh?  you are married?  What is the award for?  How long have you been married?"   etc. etc.


yourusernamehere

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2017, 05:24:06 PM »
Hi Mozar! Good for you on trying to go in with a plan! I have these kinds of meetings with my employees and I vastly prefer that the associate drive the conversation so it's clear that they're engaged.
I am a lead in a large IT organization, so my perspective is surely influenced by that. I generally do project-based work with multiples teams, and I have a handful of people who report to me but I'm not a manager.
So my suggestions given my limited experience:
Think about what you would like to get out of this one on one time, and if possible try to communicate that directly to your manager. Ask if your goals are in alignment, or if he has something different in mind (in addition to, or instead of what you were thinking.) Show respect for his time by sending an agenda ahead of each session if possible.
Here are a few examples of my recent agenda items with my manager:
- expectations: what I see as my top 3 priorities right now, is her view the same, discuss any differences
- process improvements I'm piloting with my team/ outcomes
- project roadblocks, risks, and things to get ahead of. Sometimes it's an FYI so she knows what I'm managing, and sometimes it's so I can ask her to step in.
- people: this is generally a run down of my direct reports, who is working on what skills, who may be ready for promotion soon, and how my mgr can help me get each person the right opportunities for their growth
- growth: skills I'm working on,  feedback areas I'd like her to pay specific attention to, her observations on my interactions and need for improvement
- is there anything she is doing that I can take off her plate? How can I make her job easier?
- What unplanned or unimportant work are we doing as a team that we can try deleting? (I try to come with suggestions but sometimes the open ended questions get interesting too)
- reinforcement: I try to mention one or two things she did that I appreciated, especially things that make my life easier or that I want her to keep doing. Managers are people too :-)
- career: less frequently, I include an agenda item for a look back at the goals were outlined earlier in the year and how I think I'm doing, whether I'm on track, where I see myself in the future

I'm interested to see what others have to say too. Best of luck!


mozar

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2017, 07:30:28 PM »
@yourusernamehere that's very helpful to start me thinking.

Quote
State 3 things you worked on this week, and 3 things that you plan to complete next week.
Ask your boss what he has been working on, as well, then just start asking him/her more and more questions. 
We already have a different meeting for this kind of stuff.

humbleMouse

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2017, 08:32:25 PM »
I think the best strategy here is to keep it lighthearted and talk about one or 2 specific topics related to personal life.  20 minutes goes by extremely quickly and you're not going to have time to talk about much.

I have these exact sorts of meetings with my manager.  I know he likes to fix shit in his house so I ask him about that, and I ask him how his kids and wife are if there is time.  He knows a few of my hobbies, so he asks about that. 

If you don't know about his family situation or hobbies you're going to have to ask a few questions first to figure it out.  Once you figure it out just refer to the advice above and you'll be fine.

Another Reader

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2017, 08:33:10 PM »
It's odd to ask you to discuss your personal life.  I would not do that.  Keep it to work topics and use it to find out what your manager wants you to do and how you can do it better.  Mention what you have accomplished the last week.  That sort of thing.  No personal stuff, no work gossip, no complaining about coworkers, etc.

tawyer

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2017, 05:51:47 AM »
Hi Mozar! Good for you on trying to go in with a plan! I have these kinds of meetings with my employees and I vastly prefer that the associate drive the conversation so it's clear that they're engaged.
I am a lead in a large IT organization, so my perspective is surely influenced by that. I generally do project-based work with multiples teams, and I have a handful of people who report to me but I'm not a manager.
So my suggestions given my limited experience:
Think about what you would like to get out of this one on one time, and if possible try to communicate that directly to your manager. Ask if your goals are in alignment, or if he has something different in mind (in addition to, or instead of what you were thinking.) Show respect for his time by sending an agenda ahead of each session if possible.
Here are a few examples of my recent agenda items with my manager:
- expectations: what I see as my top 3 priorities right now, is her view the same, discuss any differences
- process improvements I'm piloting with my team/ outcomes
- project roadblocks, risks, and things to get ahead of. Sometimes it's an FYI so she knows what I'm managing, and sometimes it's so I can ask her to step in.
- people: this is generally a run down of my direct reports, who is working on what skills, who may be ready for promotion soon, and how my mgr can help me get each person the right opportunities for their growth
- growth: skills I'm working on,  feedback areas I'd like her to pay specific attention to, her observations on my interactions and need for improvement
- is there anything she is doing that I can take off her plate? How can I make her job easier?
- What unplanned or unimportant work are we doing as a team that we can try deleting? (I try to come with suggestions but sometimes the open ended questions get interesting too)
- reinforcement: I try to mention one or two things she did that I appreciated, especially things that make my life easier or that I want her to keep doing. Managers are people too :-)
- career: less frequently, I include an agenda item for a look back at the goals were outlined earlier in the year and how I think I'm doing, whether I'm on track, where I see myself in the future

I'm interested to see what others have to say too. Best of luck!
This is a really great list; thanks, Mozar.

I think one-on-ones are a great time to ask your boss what their goals are. I do not think one-on-ones are a good forum for status reports on specific projects. I would prioritize talking about anything that does not have an existing forum for discussion.

Bikesy

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2017, 12:47:26 PM »
I obviously don't know the ins and outs of your company, but I've been a manager of managers at 2 mega caps and at both companies weekly 1:1s were reserved for top and bottom performers.  For the top performers it was a way to begin prepping for interviews and promotions, for the bottom performers it was the official start of the performance management process ie: firing.  I rarely recall high frequency 1:1s outside of these two situations unless perhaps your manager's manager is asking him to find ways to better engage his team and this is his way of doing that.  It sounds like this is meant as a positive for you which I would think speaks well of your performance.

As for the actual logistics of the 1:1, I always expect that the managers that report to me come prepared to lead the discussion.  I really like the previous poster's comments about alignment.  Pushing in the same direction as your manager is huge.  I think a great first 1:1 could revolve around learning what your manager is working on (higher level, not day 2 day.), this could help you better engage him/her with your work.

Case

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2017, 12:53:08 PM »
Back for more work advice!
My manager says that he wants us to have a weekly meeting where I can talk about" whatever I want for 20 minutes including work obstacles, hobbies, family etc." I would like to invest in a positive relationship with him. I've never had a positive relationship with a manager, it's always been fear based. I have 6 years until full FIRE. I would rather not quit or be fired. This meeting is in lieu of a yearly review. I have no idea what to say. Any advice?

No matter how comfortable you get, DO NOT TELL HIM ABOUT FIRE.

SimpleSpartan

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2017, 01:19:49 PM »

No matter how comfortable you get, DO NOT TELL HIM ABOUT FIRE.
[/quote]

+1

acroy

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2017, 01:39:17 PM »
- I am doing this
- I plan to do this
- I have difficulty with this and a) this is my plan and b) do you have suggestions

good luck!!

trollwithamustache

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2017, 02:21:38 PM »

  • What would you like me to keep doing?
  • What would you like me to stop doing?
  • What would you like me to start doing?

This.

For what its worth,  every boss I've had worth working for did this with all their people on a regular basis. It would seem weird to me to not be checking to make sure you are both on the same page on big picture / general direction stuff hadn't changed. 

Agree on no FIRE, but in general it may be worth talking about frugality or savings in a low key way. When I was a salaried employee and they asked what benefits I would like the company to add I would always ask for a bigger 401k contribution. They always chuckled and agreed they wanted it to.  The smart ones get nervous about keeping you when they slowly realize they don't own you as much as the rest of their employees.




Goldielocks

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2017, 04:50:22 PM »
@yourusernamehere that's very helpful to start me thinking.

Quote
State 3 things you worked on this week, and 3 things that you plan to complete next week.
Ask your boss what he has been working on, as well, then just start asking him/her more and more questions. 
We already have a different meeting for this kind of stuff.

Okay, so hiding behind your work tasks won't suffice.

Instead, bring up a topic that your boss is working on and start asking a lot of questions about it.   "I heard that Sally in Finance was assigned to your team x, but you are on an engineering project,,,,  what is that all about?  How is sally to work with?  Is having finance really helpful to your project, or is it more of an attempt to have Finance get a clue about what we do?"  etc.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2017, 04:52:19 PM by Goldielocks »

mozar

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Re: What to say during weekly one on one with manager
« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2017, 09:09:50 PM »
Meeting went well I think. I kind of went with acroy suggestions. My manager is very verbose so if I ask him a question about what he expects from me in the the next month he'll probably start talking about how that fits in with the next 6-8 months for example. We ended up talking for an hour and a half because I had a lot of questions about work expectations and he talks a lot.

I don't want to ask how to make his job easier because that's too much of a suck up question for me.

It's a very "high touch" job where there is lots of talking all the time. Basically my worst nightmare but hey, I make 6 figures. I'll tap dance if they want me to. And there will be no mention of FIRE or even frugality, ever.