How to run 1-on-1 sessions with team?

I used to run performance review, career planning sessions with my team but realized that in my current team I never did 1on1 session.

I think it might create positive impact for the team and would like to get your ideas what to talk about during 1o1. I don’t want to make it too formal, and to get their feedback regarding me too.

Little info, I am senior PM and my team is 7 devs and 1 designer.

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Wouldn’t these be handled by their engineering manager?

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We are consulting company, we don’t have such a person as engineering manager. And I guess it’s might be part of PM job as well.

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It is not your job, no. Don’t set a precedent for other PMs by taking on tasks the engineering manager should be doing. It’s not your fault there isn’t one.

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Also, 8 direct reports is a LOT, especially on top of a PM role. I say no deal.

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It’s been my experience as a leader that the thing people most want in their 1:1 is a chance to vent and rant in a safe space.

Some folks want a sounding board, but most want a scratching post.

TBH it can be incredibly burdening. I recommend dividing each 1:1 into 2 halves.

Half 1 - big fat rant and sympathy time. How’s it going, update me on your stuff and have a vent.

Half 2 - give them feedback, update them on stuff that should be shared in 1:1, ask them if they need any support or have any questions.

To answer your Q about asking them for feedback, this will send a bad message to them. They want a leader to support them, not someone with L plates. Ask your own manager for feedback. Or send a survey out once a year to measure their engagement, and identify improvement opportunities for your management style from this.

The approach should be tailored to the individual, but should serve you well.

Also, as a PM, why are you managing engineers/devs as a people leader? That ain’t right bro.

You should be managing junior PMs or perhaps some BAs only. Unless you’re technical like them you won’t be effective at it, and you’re in different domains.

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Well that was really some food for thought. Will definitely try to follow it. Thank you so much for sharing your insight.

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I’m a pm and I regularly use this 1:1 template that Jessica Powell created to track all expectations, active/past agendas, and goals with my manager as well as the people I manage as well. Been super helpful to keep tab since I regularly have 5 1:1’s per week!

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When we do our bi-weekly 1:1’s we require the employee fill out a quick web form sometime prior to the meeting (usually earlier in the same day/the evening before). There’s a handful of questions like “what are you proud of since the last time we talked”, and “what’s your #1 challenge at work right now”, and others that cover a handful of topics at work/home. If they don’t fill it out, we reschedule the meeting. It probably takes them 10-30 min, depending on their personality type.

It’s been insanely effective. It’s moved much of the 1:1 prep from the manager to the employee (which makes me genuinely look forward to my 1:1’s rather than dreading the former prep time), and it has massively increased the quality of them in the process. It requires of them to take a dedicated moment to reflect on things they want to discuss. Writing them down, even a quick sentence, helps them bring much better questions and concerns to the table, and it helps us as managers focus on things that matter to them.

I can’t encourage doing something like this enough. If for no other reason than it cuts down on your own 1:1 prep in a huge way, while making every conversation easier and more fulfilling and effective for both of you. We still discuss performance related issues when relevant, but there’s almost always something better to focus on. We’ve also found that it works incredibly well for our more introverted employees since they’re able to use the form as a place to raise issues and discussion topics that they’d never have been able to raise in a purely face to face interaction with a senior.

We also make a point to come out of every 1:1 with at least one growth related commit that we hold them accountable for during the next meeting. I’d say 90% of the time the commit is plucked right from a suggestion they bring up themselves during conversation about their form notes.

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You mean Micro-Management, right?

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@Ahmad, Compared to the previous method where management brought the bulk of topics to the table, it’s decisively the opposite.

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Make the conversation about them, not you.

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@Natasha, Getting their feedback about me is not good idea, right?

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@MarcoSilva, Well, then you are making it about you. I find it’s best to hear them, and then respond with something like "how can I help support you? Is there anything we are doing that you think could be done differently or better?’

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@Marco, Why not? The only reason I can think of not to is because they’re uncomfortable giving you feedback directly.

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I would expect your directs would be uncomfortable about giving you feedback, especially F2F and/or in the context of their performance review and career growth. I would handle that separately and look for ways to collect feedback either anonymously or via 3rd party.