These are foundational topics for one-on-one’s. They are the first ones I bring for discussion every week to set out the background for the relationship that will follow. They are not the definitive list of topics for one-on-one’s, but the most important ones for starting out.
Some subjects are about meeting in the middle and learning about each other. On the other hand, some are about being upfront and making some soft-promises to reassure them that you are worth their time. That is a double-edged sword because on one side, it can be dangerous if I fail, but on the other, it gives me focus on deliver on the promised. And promising and overdelivering is a powerful weapon.
Each topic is meant for a different one-on-one because they can be dense. It’s ideal to keep each opportunity to one concept at max. However, some are quickies and can be slotted alongside others.
All in all, our relationship is an enabler and core to our success. Relationship is, therefore, a recurring theme throughout.
The following markdown-formatted list can be copy and pasted in most todo apps.
- [ ] Meta 1-1: So why do we do one-ones? As a developer, I didn't understand 1-1's, but as a manager I finally do, so I'd like to discuss how to make them productive. Whom do 1-1's belong to? To reports. Who sets the agenda? Reports. I'm a facilitator. If you're struggling to articulate concerns, I'll help you. If you don't know what to set as agenda, I'll help you. - [ ] Meta 1-1: my responsibilities on direction, coaching and career development. - [ ] I don't judge feelings, frustrations and impulses. We're humans and we all have it. My opinions are held in suspension. What really matters is what we decide to do about them. - [ ] Meta 1-1: on feedback (e.g observation) - [ ] Quickie: questions are not requests. - [ ] Proactive Alignment. - [ ] Meta 1-1: walking one-on-one's and audio-only calls. - [ ] Quickie: on alignment; on not saying "I understood" until the message was actually understood. - [ ] Meta 1-1: as a manager, I'll share my worries with the future of ongoing projects, the team, the organization. Mostly as preview of my current thought process that might translate to decisions/directives in the future, so when those decisions come in the future, there's no surprise. - [ ] As a manager, I should be an enabler, not a bottleneck. In an ideal world, you don't have to wait for me to get things done. I want to invite you to anticipate future blockers by discussing ideas, expectations and work philosophy ahead of time, so you can comfortably make decisions that are aligned with the team when the time comes with confidence. - [ ] Kaizen: constant improvement through continuous feedback. PDCA (Plan-Do-Control-Act). - [ ] Past decisions are revised whenever we have new information. - [ ] Quickies: I don't want to hear only good news. - [ ] Quality is inseparable from work. - [ ] Tests are critical and help engineering stay above water in the long run.
Some of which aren’t critical, and need to be timed correctly. If you have already been talking for weeks, or it’s someone you already have known previously, these are too introductory and should most likely be skipped.
- [ ] Meta 1-1: on how I filter out information before sharing. I will be as open as possible, sharing as much information as I can, except what won't make you more effective (e.g unclear/ambiguous/not-actionable information).
- 2022-10-31: initial list