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How to Make the Most of Weekly One-on-Ones With Your Boss

By Maurie Backman - Sep 15, 2018 at 6:33AM

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For better or worse, recurring one-on-ones are becoming a mainstay in corporate environments. Here's how to benefit from yours.

These days, a growing number of companies are requiring that bosses and their direct reports have weekly one-on-one meetings. And while some workers -- and managers -- find these sit-downs to be nothing more than a glaring waste of time, for others, they're a welcome opportunity to get some face time and rehash important work-related matters.

Of course, the problem with these recurring one-on-ones is that they tend to be rather brief. And that makes sense. If your manager has 12 direct reports and is required to meet with all of them on a weekly basis, he or she can't exactly carve out 60 minutes or more per employee. As such, your weekly one-on-one might amount to nothing more than a 15-minute chat, or 30 minutes if you're lucky, and that's why it pays to approach those conversations strategically. Here's how.

Professionally dressed female sitting across from male in suit.


1. Come in prepared

Perhaps the best way to take advantage of your weekly one-on-one with your manager is to come in prepared with an agenda. Before that meeting, jot down a list of the things you want to discuss and the questions to which you need answers. Granted, your boss might be the one who ultimately dictates how that meeting goes and what items are reviewed, but the more organized you are when you come in, the greater your chances of hitting on the talking points that are most important to you.

2. Skip the small talk

It's always good to build a relationship with your manager, and there's something to be said for basic conversation along the lines of "How was your weekend?" or "Let me tell you about this great restaurant I just found." But when you only have a handful of minutes to discuss important matters with your boss, forgoing that chitchat is a better idea. So rather than engage in small talk, get right down to business. Go through the items on your prepared agenda, and let your boss have his or her say as well. If you find that you have a few minutes left over after all critical matters are discussed, you and your manager can then feel free to swap grilling tips or analyze your favorite sports team's performance.

3. Present any updates you have quickly

Chances are, your boss will want to use your one-on-one time to get updated on critical projects you're working on. But the more time you spend sharing those details, the less time you'll have to ask questions or review other important matters. That's why it pays to be as concise as possible when bringing your manager up to speed. If you're tasked with overhauling your company's website, you don't necessarily need to spend seven or eight minutes reviewing your content strategy. Rather, a simple "The home page redesign portion is complete" should suffice. If your manager has any follow-up questions, he or she will be sure to ask.

4. Ask your boss for concrete feedback

Many managers use weekly one-on-ones as a chance to get up to date and share quick thoughts. But if you're smart, you'll use that time as a chance to solicit actual feedback about your performance. This might get your boss thinking about how you're doing and where you can improve, and if you receive that sort of constructive criticism week after week, as opposed to waiting until your annual review comes around, it'll be much more helpful.

Whether you look forward to your weekly one-on-one with your boss or think it's a drag, it pays to make the most of that time. Follow these tips, and you'll be doing just that.

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