I’ve been a manager for over four years now, and I still really enjoy it. I thought I should share some of the tools I’ve used with others and hopefully get some feedback as well!
I schedule my one-on-ones (1:1s) for 30 minutes every week, but the template would work for other frequencies or durations as well. Some managers don’t take notes during 1:1s - this might work well if you have a small team and a fast performance review cycle (and a great memory!). However my team is anywhere from 6-12 people, and our official review cycle is annual (and I don’t have the best memory...). So I make sure to take and notes about each 1:1. This is the template I use to my team member and me on the same page (literally!).
As you can see, I have four columns:
- Date - when we had the 1:1. I put the additional table cells on the page one month at a time, so either of us can fill in future meetings with notes to add if needed.
- Their column - their space to write whatever agenda items they want to cover
- My column - my space to add agenda items
- Action items - a checklist of things we need to do
It’s not a terribly interesting template, but it works!
During the 1:1 we work from left to right. Any agenda item in their column trumps my agenda items. If we run out of time we can schedule another session. If we repeatedly run out of time we can increase our default duration. This means some team members have two 1:1s in a specific week. I’ve also setup some team members with regular 45 minute 1:1s; typically this happens when we're working on a promotion case or they’re running a complex project and it doesn’t last forever (but it’s fine if it does!).
As we talk, I add details about the agenda items they added to their column (or take live notes on what they discussed but wasn’t on the page in advance). Since we both have access to the page, this means they can review my notes and let me know if I misunderstood or misinterpreted something they said. I try to jot down notes for what I said too (if the agenda item isn’t clear enough), but I’ll admit I don’t always get this right. It’s hard to talk and type at the same time! A few people will take notes on their own, but I don’t enforce this.
Typically towards the end of the meeting we’ll summarise any actions either of us need to take and keep track of it in the “Action items” column. Each item should have an assignee, and it’s ok if things are assigned to me. I want to make it clear that it’s fine for them to expect me to get things done. We have different roles and responsibilities. I need to meet mine just as much as they need to meet theirs.
I run this template for one year, covering the same time period as the annual review. I’ve tried having each session on a different page, but it means you can’t easily
cmd+f for topics that you’re pretty sure you covered earlier. Depending on your review cycle it might make sense to split out the pages for 3 or 6 months just to keep things tidier.