You discovered our list of effective tips for virtual one on ones.
Virtual one on one meetings are periodic online calls where supervisors and direct reports chat via video platforms like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams. The purpose of these meetings is to check-in, share feedback, establish goals and priorities, and set plans for personal growth. The meeting duration tends to be 15 to 30 minutes.
This post includes:
- virtual one on one ideas
- how to prepare for one on one meetings
- questions to ask during your one on one
Let’s get into it.
List of tips for virtual one on ones
From implementing four week cycles to asking the right questions, here are best practices for virtual one on ones that aim to guide remote workers towards organizational success.
1. Send notes in advance
Few phrases evoke as much anxiety as “we need to talk.” Even model employees sometimes suspect, “I’m in trouble,” when the boss calls a meeting. Sending notes in advance eliminates anxiety, plus lays the groundwork for a back-and-forth discussion. Tipping employees off about talking points gives them time to prepare, thus ensuring a more robust and enlightened discussion. For best results, email a bulleted list, or even just a short synopsis of the topics to explore during the call.
2. Create a consistent format
A consistent format gives employees a sneak peek into the meeting. Following a set structure for virtual one on ones familiarizes staff with the content of the calls, and helps with preparation on both sides.
An example virtual one on one format may be:
- Urgent or time-sensitive tasks
- Priorities since we last met
- Main challenges
- Main triumphs
- Questions or concerns
- Wellbeing check
- Priorities until we meet again
- Action steps
Repeating the same structure each meeting cuts down on planning time and improves the flow.
3. Set recurring meetings
Frequent one on ones tend to be more effective than random one-offs, but syncing time slots and setting up calls can be a chore. To take the work out of scheduling, set recurring meetings.
First, decide on a time period to meet, such as bi-weekly or once a month. Next, pick a particular day and time, confirm the employee’s availability, and send the invite. Rescheduling is always an option, and changing the date of one or two meetings is easier than starting from scratch each time. Plus, the anticipation of the upcoming encounter sets a soft deadline that keeps employees on track.
4. Implement four week cycles
Implementing four week cycles is an approach that breaks down projects month by month. Four week cycles are one of the most useful virtual one on one tools available to remote managers.
To follow this format, meet with your team once a month and lay out hyper-specific goals for the next four weeks. These conversations establish priorities for the near future. Of course, urgent matters may arise that necessitate deviation from the plan. But as a rule, four week cycles outline a clear path for remote employees to follow to achieve desired results. This cycle decreases anxiety and doubt and increases output and productivity, creating a hyper-focused, accountable virtual workforce.
5. Don’t skip calls
Tempting as it may be to postpone meetings when you are short on time or light on updates, do not repeatedly deviate from the schedule. Forming a meeting habit establishes momentum. Once you miss a couple of calls you are off the system, and restarting becomes a more arduous task.
Not to mention, regular calls keep open lines of communication, so employees feel comfortable airing concerns or asking questions. Plus, meeting solely based on necessity puts teammates on edge, while regular meetings are less stressful and more comfortable for staff.
6. Meet using video meeting software
While you could conduct virtual one-on-ones over the phone, via instant messaging, or even while playing a video game together, meeting face to face allows you to pick up on nonverbal cues and body language.
Video calls allow both parties to see each other, enabling managers or employees to address facial expressions or gestures that reveal doubt, confusion, or hesitance. Furthermore, face-to-face interactions help build camaraderie and trust and fight remote loneliness, establishing healthier relationships between virtual team leaders and teammates.
While this tip may seem like common sense, making a point to meet your teammates via video meeting software is one of the best virtual one on one ideas you can implement.
7. Forthright communication is the right communication
Communication is a critical element of remote work, and communication between a manager and employees is especially important. Virtual one on ones set the tone for projects and daily responsibilities and give staff direction.
Since virtual leaders have fewer opportunities to check on works-in-progress, it is vital that employees leave conferences with a clear vision and understanding of next steps. Otherwise, managers may not catch misunderstandings until later stages of the project, after many hours or weeks of misaligned work.
Forthright communication ensures that managers and employees are on the same page and empowers all parties to perform tasks optimally.
Check out more virtual employee communication tips.
8. Ask effective questions
Researching one-on-one questions is a good starting point when preparing for any meeting, but the infrequency of conversations when working remotely calls for an especially careful approach. To ensure that both managers and employees get the most out of the one-on-one, ask effective questions.
Some good virtual one-on-one meeting questions include:
- What tools or software are most helpful to your job?
- Are there any additional resources you think might help you do your job better?
- When you have a question or need help, what is the first resource you use?
- Is your job what you expected when you accepted it? If not, where has it differed?
- Have you had the opportunity to connect with some of your remote colleagues?
- What is the greatest challenge you face in your day-to-day home workflow?
- How could your teammates better support you in your day-to-day responsibilities?
- How could I, as your manager, better support you in your day-to-day responsibilities?
- In what ways have you grown since you started with the company?
- In what ways would you like to grow within the next year?
In general, avoid “yes or no” questions in favor of queries that elicit thoughtful replies. The more specific the query, the better. Targeted prompts like, “how do you feel about managing your daily workflow and responsibilities?” elicit more helpful responses than vague inquiries like “how is everything going?”
9. Keep notes so you can refer later
Beyond Zoom fatigue and “meetings that could have been emails,” employee’s top complaints about meetings include regurgitating the same information at every gathering and a lack of follow-through on discussed topics. Note-taking helps to eliminate both these frustrations.
By keeping notes to refer to later, you can circle back to unresolved or issues and ensure closure. This method also reminds you to follow-up on unanswered questions or concerns post-meeting.
A structured note-taking system or tool such as Evernote or Microsoft OneNote can help you organize your thoughts into easily accessible records.
One on ones are important in any working environment, but especially so in virtual offices where leaders and employees have limited contact. Checking in virtually aligns employees with their manager’s vision and other teammates’ efforts, and gives teammates a forum to air concerns or ask questions. Not to mention, virtual one on ones make remote workers feel seen and supported, strengthening company culture as well as the relationship between workers and management.