Regular one-to-ones (or 1:1 as I like to call them) are fundamental parts of quality line management and leadership. I have fortnightly half hours with all my direct reports and key team mates, weekly for the newer talent, to ensure we get a regular opportunity to chat about anything (not just work related) – some of my principles are actually documented in my Manager Readme on GitHub.  

Through lockdown, topics have typically shifted towards wellbeing and personal circumstances but we also try to cover career progression and growth. These conversations often create interesting points and actions. However, I’ve found some individuals have difficulty remembering or acting on agreed next steps, often neglected on following discussions. 

Over the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with new methods and mechanisms to encourage accountability and traceability following those chats. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Discuss and agree actions throughout your conversations, either in person or through text-based chat. 
  • Create a pinned (live) document scribing important notes, ideas, actions with owners and goal dates. Both of you should be able to contribute towards this but, ideally, your direct report is the owner.
  • In Teams, try Meeting notes for super convenience; Google Docs and Confluence also help; GitHub Markdown docs in a personal repo also make for a tech-friendly alternative engineers can easily contribute towards. 
  • Confluence actions and MS Planner also provide handy automated alerts when action due dates are fast approaching. 
  • Make sure you reflect early in the call to check progress before it’s too late and summarise priorities by the end of it. 
  • This is NOT a status update but working towards improvements. It’s often easier to ask “any progress?” rather than go line by line. (Again, using GitHub Markdown files provides handy diffs to see progress on each iteration). 
  • Use it as a brag doc (aka hype doc) as well – record all those highlights for EOY/quarterly reviews. 
  • Keep the document handy for rapid, live updates. Bookmark in your browser or pin to your Slack / Teams conversation. 
  • Try setting end of day/week reminders to reflect regularly since the previous check-in. I’d also recommend a mid-week checkpoint when you’re more likely to act on them. 
  • Use async messages to chat when convenient, not waiting until the next 1:1. 
  • Adjust format and frequency to fit each individual’s personality. Some people are more keen while others need a purpose or prompt. Junior people are often working towards promotions whilst seniors are more content. 

How do you try to encourage accountability with your direct reports? Do you have any other methods that might help? Share with me on Twitter

(Photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions from Unsplash)