Tech & Work

Three reasons not to ignore one-on-one meetings in IT

Sometimes it seems like all you do is go to meetings, and it can be tempting to skip having one-on-one sessions with your staff. But the benefits outweigh the time required for those informal chats.

The IT department isn't immune to days and weeks chock full of meetings. You have the meetings to "discuss user requirements for the new app build." Then there's the meeting to "discuss the infrastructure and other system resources for warehousing the app" and meetings to "brainstorm design and code for the app." It never ends! These meetings are without a doubt necessary, but they may not be the most crucial meetings to attend. However, regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings between IT leaders and their subordinates should be common practice and hold a high priority on everyone's agenda.

What are 1:1 meetings?

One-on-one (1:1) meetings are regularly scheduled meetings between IT leadership and individual IT staff members. These meetings are not group sessions. One-on-one meetings usually take less than 15 minutes and are scheduled for at least two to four times per month. Ideally, once per week is best.

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Why have 1:1 meetings?

There are plenty of reasons why 1:1 meetings are worth everyone's time. Here are three of the biggest.

    1: The meetings are a great way to understand what your staff member is handling regularly

    Unlike the project scrums and sprints of the technology world, 1:1 meetings between IT leadership and subordinates are more staff-focused in nature. Typical questions that IT leadership should ask include:

    • What are the needs of the staff member?
    • What are the goals of the staff member?
    • What can be implemented to aid the staff member on day-to-day tasks?

    One-on-one meetings allow an IT manager to take focus away from the myriad projects on the board and put focus where it belongs—on the IT staff members.

    2: The meeting environment is loose

    The 1:1 allows both IT leadership and staff members to get (professional) items off their chest. Sometimes a colleague just wants to vent frustrations or share accolades. Ever had a day where a project stakeholder refused to compromise on proposed requirements? Makes you want to scream, right? You can't yell at the stakeholder, though. Instead, vent your frustrations to your manager in the 1:1.

    SEE: 5 styles of project collaboration and when to use them

    3: The meetings are intimate

    I know the term "intimate" isn't something your IT department wants spoken, due to human resource ramifications, but that's not the intimacy I'm referring to. When IT leaders sit down for a regularly scheduled 1:1, it allows the subordinate to open up and share their concerns.

    In addition to working on the day-to-day SDLC, the IT staff often has other professional items on their mind. For instance, a junior developer may become more interested in the intricacies of running the database that houses the new app's data. This could be an enlightening conversation for the department leader. The DBA team may be looking to fill an open slot. There just may be an advantage to the department (and company) to groom someone already familiar with the company's culture and corporate goals.

    I previously mentioned the environment of a 1:1 is loose and allows the staff member to vent about project plans or even other colleagues. The intimacy of a 1:1 meeting also allows for discussions or serious concerns a staff member may have, such as a disagreement among other staff members. The 1:1 can make handling conflict resolutions and team dynamics much easier for the HR department if the situation is diffused early.

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    Your take

    Has your IT department implemented one-on-ones? What advantages or disadvantages have you experienced with these types of meetings? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. We enjoy your feedback.

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    About Ant Pruitt

    Ant Pruitt is an IT Support Professional with a passion for showing the non-geek how great technology can be. He writes for a variety of tech publications and hosts his own podcast. Ant is also an avid photographer and weight lifter.

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