One of the main traits of being a good Engineering Manager is to know the pulse of your team. You need to know how your team is doing as a unit, and also how each individual is doing. Catching up with your team regularly will give the manager a fair idea about the team, and also help establish a connect with them. In this post, I discuss some points about 1:1s and this is both for Engineering Managers and Team Members.
Who owns the 1:1s
1:1s isn’t just the manager’s responsibility. It is equally the team’s responsibility as well. Both the team and the manager can drive the agenda of the 1:1. Although a format or a structure would definitely help in coming up prepared for the 1:1. The team members shouldn’t assume that it’s completely manager’s responsibility to drive the meeting. This meeting is a two way street.
What gets discussed in a 1:1
1:1s shouldn’t become only boring project updates, they should also be the forum to discuss beyond work. It can be a peek into your personal life as well. Knowing the personal side of a team member can make you more empathetic as a manager. My 1:1s are set for 20–30 minutes each, I do a quick discussion of how things are going at work, and then I leave the next 10–15 minutes to discuss anything under the sun.
My 1:1 format
I do 1:1s with my team members once every two weeks. I keep track of my 1:1s with a sheet shared with all my team members. For example, if my team member is A, I’d share a sheet with them titled A/Abhiram, where I keep track of ongoing 1:1s with A. Keeping all 1:1s as a timeline will give both me and the team member A a view into the progress we have made so far.
Here are the things I usually discuss in my 1:1.
Project/Product updates: Quick update on how things are going, any blockers or callouts.
Engineering & Process updates: Get feedback on how the team is doing with respect to the engineering practices set in the team, to identify any scope for improvements and contributions.
Feedback: Straight and candid feedback, if the feedback is given because of a specific incident in mind, then letting them know that it is the case. Basically be straight forward and open about feedback. Also this is also an opportunity to get feedback from the team as well.
Action Items: Action items that need to be done by both parties to address the feedback mentioned above.
Others: Any other items, that needs to be discussed.
I encourage the team to keep adding notes in the document and we can discuss them during our 1:1s. Catching up with the team is not just limited to these meetings, however a consistent cadence needs to be set to get the momentum going.
There is no set frequency for the 1:1s. Set up something that works for both of you. Ideally there should be a meeting at least once a month. Being consistent is important. Once in a while, you may not be able to make it, and that is fine. But if you see either cancelling the meetings, then call it out.
No matter what your structure is for doing 1:1s, if you keep them consistent, it is a great way to keep in touch with the team. If you have any other format or structure that you see has worked for you, let me know in the comments.
Post Originally written on Medium: here