Everyone wants to have good meetings, especially the one-on-one meetings with their boss. Many people dread them, but those meetings are the foundation for success. It’s possible to not only excel in them but to come away from them feeling more productive and energized. Whether you meet with your boss weekly, quarterly, or even just once a year, here are some tips for making the most of that time:
Create an agenda. The most productive meetings have a set agenda. Establishing an agenda ahead of time gives the meeting structure and allows both of you to prepare. Several days ahead of the meeting, jot down any questions you want answered and items you want to discuss, and provide a copy to your boss.
Show leadership. Who you are is just important as what you say and how you say it. Don’t be afraid to demonstrate your abilities and speak with confidence. When you do, you reinforce the idea that you’re the right person for the job.
Stay on track. To demonstrate your productivity and effectiveness, don’t get sidetracked by small talk except for a short set of pleasantries at the beginning. Instead, update your boss on your current projects and future plans. Don’t bombard them with too many details; let them know everything they need to stay informed without taking up too much of their time.
Present new ideas. Show your boss that you are not only working on your current projects but developing other ideas as well. Always focus on solutions instead of problems.
Ask for feedback. It’s great for your boss to see your strengths, but you want to also show that you’re open to development and growth, so ask for feedback. Be specific—don’t just ask “How am I doing?” but “What do you think I can do to improve in workflow?” (or leadership, management, or another area).
Make agreements. It’s best to have an agreement with your boss about the next steps in each of the things you’re working on. Agree on the immediate way forward, and be clear about expectations.
Be of service. End your meetings by asking your boss “How can I support you?” Taking even a few minutes to acknowledge their role can make a big difference. It shows empathy, consideration, and an eye for the big picture—and it will likely build valuable trust and goodwill.
At the end of the day, the most effective one-on-one meetings are a two-way street: where you and your boss serve and support each other. Don’t ask yourself how you can get the most out of the meeting but how both of you can find ways to work together to advance your organization’s mission.
Lead from within: Even if your one-on-one meetings are already working well, consider these ideas and other ways to make them more effective and successful.
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