Imagine this scenario: You’re a manager with a team of talented individuals who are constantly juggling multiple tasks, deadlines, and projects. You want to ensure that each team member feels heard, supported, and motivated to perform their best. But, you wonder what to talk about in 121 meetings. That’s where this 121 meeting agenda guide comes in.
The 121 meeting, also known as a one-on-one meeting, is a powerful tool that allows you to connect with your direct reports on a personal level. You can use them to discuss their progress and address any challenges they may be facing. It’s an opportunity to provide guidance, feedback, and support, ultimately helping your team members thrive and excel in their roles.
In a world-class organisation, these 121 meetings are not just about going through the motions or checking off a box on your to-do list. They are completely different. They are about building relationships, understanding individual values and drives, and promoting a culture of open and honest communication. By investing just a few minutes of your time in these meetings, you can make a huge impact on your team’s performance and overall satisfaction. So, what should you talk about in a 121 meeting? Let’s explore some key components and strategies to make these meetings truly valuable and impactful.
As a manager, you have a duty of care for all your team members. Simon Sinek sums it up nicely:
“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge.“
What to talk about in 121 meetings
When it comes to conducting a successful meeting, it’s important to have a plan. In fact, having a well-planned agenda is crucial. An agenda not only helps keep the discussion on track but also ensures that all important topics are covered.
To help you create an effective agenda for your next meeting, we have created an example 121 meeting agenda below. It covers various aspects of work, well-being and employee development. Of course, you can add more. Flexibility is important, so feel free to change our suggestion, even between meetings. One thing to keep in mind though, try to keep the meeting to 30-45 mins.
1) Opening and Check-In
- Start with a friendly greeting.
- Ask how your direct report is doing (both professionally and personally, if appropriate). This helps establish rapport and trust.
2) Review Previous Action Items
- If this isn’t your first 121 with your direct report, review action items or topics from the last meeting. Ensure that they have been addressed or understand any challenges in achieving them.
3) Employee-led Discussion
- Allow them to bring up topics they’d like to discuss. This can include:
- A quick status update.
- Project updates or challenges.
- Feedback on team dynamics or working processes.
- Ideas or suggestions for improvements.
- Personal development goals or career aspirations.
4) Manager-led Discussion
- Share any feedback you have on their performance (both positive reinforcement and constructive feedback).
- Discuss any organisational updates or changes they should be aware of.
- Talk about upcoming projects or shifts in responsibilities.
- Share learning opportunities or areas of improvement you’ve identified for them.
5) Review Progress on Objectives
- Review each objective (the ones that form part of the formal performance review)
- Ensure they are still relevant – update if needed
- Review progress, and provide advice if required
- Should any new objectives be created?
6) Professional Development
- Discuss their career goals and aspirations.
- Review the current personal development plan
- Explore any training, courses, or learning opportunities available.
- Talk about potential pathways for growth within the company.
7) Feedback on You
- This is a two-way street. Allow them to provide feedback on your management style, communication, or any other relevant aspect. This can help you improve as a manager.
8) Action Items and Next Steps
- Summarise key points discussed during the meeting.
- Agree on action items to be taken before the next meeting.
- If applicable, schedule the next one-on-one.
- Ask if there’s anything else on their mind or any other support they need from you.
- Reiterate your availability and encourage open communication between scheduled 121s.
- Thank them for their time and contributions.
Additional 121 Meeting Tips:
- Make sure the environment is private and comfortable to allow for open communication.
- Listen more than you speak. This is their time as much as yours.
- Keep an open mind and be prepared for feedback that might be hard to hear.
- Ensure that you follow up on any action items. This shows that you take these meetings seriously and value their input.
- Celebrate success
- Steer in the right direction early – don’t let performance or behaviour become a big problem before you act
- Keep notes during the meeting to reference for the next one.
- Remember to have your 121 meetings! It’s super important to have meetings regularly, no matter how temping it is to miss ‘just this week’..