As a manager, if you say to your employee, listen, I really want you to thrive. And I want to help in any way I can... That's going to end up inspiring the employee to start thinking differently.

In this episode

Have you ever thought canceling your 1:1 meetings with your directs might not be a big deal?

Think again—they may be the key to unlocking the full potential of your team and leadership excellence. Steven Rogelberg illustrates this crucial aspect of leadership and shares insights on how to optimize these 1:1 meetings to foster team growth and individual development and transform the larger organizational landscape.

Steven Rogelberg is a leading organizational psychologist with a wealth of knowledge on team effectiveness, leadership, and workplace dynamics, and the Chancellor’s Professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His new book, ‘Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings’ presents key research-backed strategies to elevate 1:1s to the benefit of you, your directs, and your organization. With years of experience consulting for top-tier companies, he brings a rich perspective on enhancing workplace dynamics for peak performance.

In episode #182, Steven Rogelberg discusses the importance of 1:1s, avoiding the status update trap, and clear steps on structuring these meetings to foster meaningful conversations. 

Tune in to hear Steven’s expertise on how you can elevate your management skills and reshape your meeting habits!

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the podcast with your colleagues.


The importance of 1:1 meetings


The status update trap


Investing the time


The four steps of 1:1s


Dealing with resistance and dead space

Resources mentioned in this episode:


Steven, welcome back to the show.

Steven Rogelberg  03:23

Oh, it’s so good to be here. Thank you.

Aydin Mirzaee  03:25

Yeah, it’s funny, I was gonna say welcome to the show. But then I remembered obviously, this is your second time on really awesome, have you back really enjoyed the first conversation and excited to dig in here. So a lot has happened in the world of meetings in the last year or two. Everybody knows you as many things but also centered around being like the expert on meetings, the meeting scientists, you know, often on TV, often you were just on Adam Grant’s podcast, which was really awesome. But you have something new coming out, which is a new book that you wrote called ‘Glad We Met,’ and it comes out on January 8. So everybody can go and click preorder, or order. Now. I think like by the time that this episode goes live, the book should also be live. So why don’t we start from the very beginning? Why did you decide to write this book?

Steven Rogelberg  04:15

Well, first of all, it’s great to be here again. I loved our first show, and you’re such a good champion for the meeting cause, so thank you for all that you do as well. Yeah, so as an organizational psychologist, I’m drawn to studying topics that, in many regards, cause people pain, or are these incredible opportunities that are currently being missed? And so that brought me to study meetings. And then this new book ‘Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings,’ obviously focuses on one on one meetings. And one on one meetings—it’s a completely different space, right? If you look at the meeting space, there’s a lot of books. Now my book was different because it was all about science. But in the one on one meeting space, it’s really quite empty. And yet these things truly matter, they are so incredibly important. So, you know, basically after I did the first book, if you would have asked me, are you gonna do another one? I’d say no. But then I just started realizing that this was something that needed a light shed on. So for five years, I conducted a whole bunch of new research on the topic, put it all together, integrated it with research on mentorship, and coaching, and communication. And while law, this book lays out the science and opportunity around one on ones, I think it’s really exciting for folks. And to my true surprise, it’s, I mean, people are just into it. And that makes me so happy. Because I do this, obviously, to get the science out, you know, I’m donating all my royalties to charity, everything goes to the American Cancer Society. So my hope is just to get out the content. And I’m glad people are interested.

Aydin Mirzaee  05:57

Yeah, super excited to dig in about it. You know, it is very true. There are obviously many types of meetings, everybody is in a lot of meetings. And, you know, as we’ve discussed, previously, meetings have only increased post pandemic. So a way that we spend a lot of our time, but when you look inside of the organization for most managers, CEOs, founders, VPS, you know, and all throughout, we spent a lot of that time in one on one meetings, and at least in the world of management science, it’s, you know, the most important meeting for a lot of people, it’s the thing that you shouldn’t miss, it’s the thing that you shouldn’t reschedule. So a lot of importance has gone about it. And there are like, you know, people have talked about it here and there. And various management books, famously, I think, in high output management, Andy Grove, maybe talked about it. I don’t know if he talked about it first. But a lot of people will remember that as being one of the first places that they read about the concept. But where do you see this? I mean, this, you know, people have been meeting one on one since the very beginning, since meetings have happened, right? It’s not that it only started.

Steven Rogelberg  07:01

Well, so first of all, just to riff on what you said, the alternative title for the book that I considered was the one meeting, that should never be an email, because this is just so different. So critical. People definitely have a meeting and one on one context since the beginning of time. But this is different. You know, when we refer to a one on one meeting, we’re talking about a meeting that’s facilitated and orchestrated by the manager, but it’s not for them, it’s for the direct, it’s for the drag to share what’s on their mind, it’s for the manager to facilitate a conversation constantly looking for ways of supporting, listening, engaging with the content, that the direct shares. So the orientation, I think the orientation is what’s unique about this, this one predictable regular meeting, where the employee knows that they will be truly seen. And if the manager has stuff to talk about, that’s great. But it’s all secondary. Because again, this is that meeting that the employee knows is truly for them. And so that orientation, I think, is quite unique. That is quite contemporary. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. Humans meet one on one. That’s not the revolutionary piece.

Aydin Mirzaee  08:17

Yeah. And so what would you say like if you break it down, so you know, it’s for, maybe the manager organizes it, but it’s really so that the direct report, on the other end, has the visibility has the time that they need? If you were to kind of break it down into, you know, what are the goals? Is there like a primary goal and a secondary goal? Or how do you think about, you know, the actual purpose of if I would ask you, what is the real purpose behind these meetings? 

Steven Rogelberg  08:45

Yeah, so the purpose is really twofold. It’s meet the practical and tactical needs of the direct needs that are both short-term and long-term. So it could be things going on in the moment, but it could also be looking forward to future opportunities and growth as a person. So that’s the practical tactical piece of it. But it’s also meeting the personal needs, the personal needs to feel seen, respected, trusted, included. And that’s really the kind of the procedural part of it. You know, it’s like going to a restaurant, right, you can get great food. But if the service is bad, it hasn’t been a very good experience. Vice versa, right? Bad food, great service, not a very good experience. So meaning the practical and tackle needs are really about the quality. And then personal needs are about that process, this service. And so the goal, you know, because the agenda should be driven by what’s on the mind of the direct, there’s not going to be this litmus test of okay, well, did you talk about this? And if you did, it’s been successful. You know, what the manager needs to do is get the direct to really think carefully about what they need, right to think about all aspects of their work life, maybe even where it connects with the personal life if they’re calm. have trouble, you know, thinking long term short term, thinking team thinking organization, right to really do a thorough scan, and then come to the meeting prepared to share. And then the manager has to lean in. Right, the manager has to truly listen hear it. And by doing that, now we have the ingredients for a successful one on one. But interestingly, our data is generally suggesting that employees indicate that 50% of one on ones were not considered optimal. So there’s clearly they’re not delivering on their incredible promise. But as you step back and reflect, it’s not as big surprise, you know, managers receive basically no training on this topic. In my work with Fortune 500 companies, I’ve only found one organization that provided training around this topic. So you have an activity, lack of training, at the same time, we identified a blind spot managers leave these one on one saying that they were better than the direct field. So when you have a blind spot, and there’s no training, basically, what you do is that you just start to recycle the dysfunctional, less than optimal practices that you yourself have experience over time. And thus, these meetings just don’t get to where they need to be. And what often happens is the managers their needs are met, they often go heavy into micromanaging. And they fall into one of the worst pitfalls, which is called the status update trap.

Aydin Mirzaee  11:29

Yeah, so it is very interesting, like the managers might feel this is more productive, they might walk away and say, that was great one on one, but then when you look at the data, it doesn’t turn out that the person on the other side necessarily thinks the same. So we’ll talk about the status update trap in a second. But it’s a sense that I’m getting that it seems like the manager’s job is to make sure that the person that they’re having a one on one with is really thinking about things holistically, like you said, to think about their career, or think about their work their obstacles, and really come into that discussion in a particular way. But at the same time, not to dictate, you know, what is talked about? And so there, I kind of feel a little bit of tension because, you know, sometimes people might want to come in and talk again, if there’s no structure to the way that the conversation is had, then how can you make sure that it’s productive and useful one. So I’m just curious, like, any thoughts on that, or recommendations,

Steven Rogelberg  12:30

so there does need to be some structure. And I know, you all have done some work in that space, too. So we do find that having a lightweight agenda was tied to effectiveness. What was even more tied to effectiveness was the Drax, direct involvement in the creation of the plan of action. So we do want to have structure we want it to be a flexible structure. You know, the general approaches are you either do a listing approach where everyone comes to the meeting with a list of things they want to talk about, we then privileged the directs content, and the manager can intersperse into that. But basically, what’s unique to their list is only discussed if there’s time. Right? So that’s the listing approach. The second approach is kind of a core question approach, where you say, hey, here are five questions to kind of structure a conversation questions such as, you know, what are the biggest obstacles that you’re having? And how can I support you? And so while the manager is providing those core questions, really, the direct is driving the conversation. And then the final approach is a template-based approach. And all three approaches can work. One of the things I really emphasize in the book is this notion of the art and the science. And that’s what’s kind of unique about this topic is that, yeah, I lay out a bunch of evidence based approaches. But ultimately, as a leader, you have to stop, you have to stop and reflect about your values and your relationships with the individuals, and what your directs would lie. So we want the directors to help shape what these meetings look like, again, this is the art. And so these three strategies for organizing the one on one all can be very viable, and the manager could reflect what fits them the best, and then they can execute it. Ultimately, the plan of action, though, is just a lightweight plan of action. If a director wants to spend the entire time talking about one issue, that’s not a problem. It’s not a problem because clearly, that’s what’s on their mind. And the orientation that a manager has to have going into this is they’re not trying to create a bunch of checkpoints that they did this, they did this. They did this. They did this. Wow, I’m good. Right. They need to keep reminding themselves that they are coming into this conversation, to bring out what’s on the minds of the directs and to engage with it in a meaningful and deep way.

Aydin Mirzaee  14:43

Yeah, so it’s very interesting. And I love how you said one of the questions that you could get in the form of a light agenda is, you know, what are obstacles in your way or how can I help or some equivalent of that because I think it ties very well back into I remember having our first Congress Question. And you saying like a really good tactical approach to meetings in general is to have agenda items that are actually questions and like, yeah, that’s a much better way to formulate that. And so I guess one of the questions becomes, you know, you can create this structure, but the thing that you’ve you’ve got to avoid is the status update trap. So I’m going to assume that the status update trap is where managers get into micromanaged mode. And they’re like, where are we at with this? Where are we at with that, and so on, and so forth. So what is the most effective way to avoid that?

Steven Rogelberg  15:34

So a lot of it is going to be your mindset going in there, you know, realize, as a manager, you have the power here, right? You can always schedule a meeting to review progress on various goals like that’s in your capacity. It’s just this meeting is not for that, right, this meeting is not for you. And we can monitor work in many different ways, right. So there’s lots of managers who are super effective at managing their employees status and progress by using asynchronous documents, and where the employee is kind of providing updates and managers responding into it easy, not a problem. There’s lots of managers who rely on team meetings for kind of status updates. So people all have a collective big picture perspective. So status updates can absolutely occur. And they can occur lots of different ways. We just don’t want to have it here. And so the mindset you go in there matters, you know, constantly involving the direct in the creation of the content to be discussed, matters, you know, sharing a very clear vision up front for why you’re doing these matters, being appropriately vulnerable at times so that you help create a more safe environment for the director to engage. That matters, too. But ultimately, it’s going to be the questions you ask. So active listening, and engagement with others conversations, they take work. And so you do it all the time, as you’re doing this podcast, right? You are trying to listen carefully to what I’m saying. You’re trying to find themes. And what I’m saying, right, you’re fully connected, the mindset that you have is this is not about me, right? I mean, you’re basically enacting the kinds of things that I’m talking about, you’re trying to make this a meaningful, valuable experience for your listeners, and you’re trying to get me to bring out this content that could be valuable and rich. So that’s what managers need to do. And so you do it because you recognize what this is all about. And so when managers fully recognize what this is all about, and in many regards, embrace this notion that these one on ones do help the manager to right as employees thrive, it only is good for you, as employees thrive, they’re less likely to leave the organization, that’s good for you, especially if it’s your top talent. Furthermore, we’ve seen some data that suggests that managers are interrupted last when they have regular cadence, one on ones, right, because people save their topics and issues for it. So it’s just embracing this is your investment in your people, and really investing weekly 20-25 minutes, is that really much of investment? I mean, that’s, that’s pretty easy to enact, especially given the incredible gains associated with the investment.

Aydin Mirzaee  18:14

You know, this is really interesting point. So a couple of things that I’m very curious to dig into. One is the way that you asked a question, which is like, is this something worthwhile that you should invest time in? I think, what would be what’s probably interesting to the listeners here, because you know, the listeners of this podcast are the I would say management nerds, to some extent, right. So these are the people who want to get better at management who are actively, you know, journaling, they’re tracking, they’re listening, podcasts are like, How can I be a better manager and leader? So I think for this audience, yeah, everybody does one on ones. But what I would say is that, and I’m curious, what you saw in the data is, do you have a sense for if you were to just look at corporate America? I don’t know how broad this study was? What percentage of managers actually do one on ones on a regular basis? Do you have some sort of idea on that?

Steven Rogelberg  19:04

It’s actually appears to be very high, they’re happening. They’re just not happening with the direct being the focus, right? They’re happening with a manager getting their needs met. But ya know, they’re definitely happening. It’s just not the form that is optimal. And, you know, again, the data is really strong that when managers have these regular one on ones, you know, there’s some data from Gallup, involving over two and a half million people that demonstrated a three fold increase in engagement. We have data published that shows that team’s success is higher. So I guess the key takeaway here is, this is not really an optional activity. This is really a required activity. This is leadership. This is where leadership happens. And so you know, managers shouldn’t be doing the calculus like oh, okay, if I do 25 minutes here, then I’m gonna be missing out on this. This is not a choice. You need to do this. People want to be seen right, especially in dispersed workforces. We’re all wanting to be seen We all know the value of having our manager take interest, a genuine interest in us. And so we also know the adage, right that people don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad bosses. And so all these things together, this is a required piece of leadership. This is where leadership truly happens.

Aydin Mirzaee  20:19

Hey, everyone, just a quick pause on today’s episode to tell you about a new feature that I am so excited about, we’ve been working on this one for quite a while, and excited to announce it to the world. We’re calling it meeting guidelines. So there’s all these things that people already know they should do when they organize a meeting. So for example, you should make sure that you shouldn’t invite too many people. Or if you’re booking a recurring meeting, you probably want to put an end date on that meeting. Or if you’re going to invite someone to a meeting, you should probably you know, if they have more than 20 hours of meetings that week, maybe be a little bit more considerate, and ask “Should I really invite that person to the meeting?” So there’s a bunch of these sorts of things that you might even know about. But what happens somehow in larger organizations is that people forget all of these things. And so that’s why we built this feature called meeting guidelines. It’s super easy to use, it’s a Google Chrome extension. So if you install it, what will happen is it will integrate with your Google Calendar. And that way, whenever anyone within your company is about to book a meeting, these meeting guidelines will show up and make sure that people know and take a second look at that meeting that they’re about to book and make sure that it hears to these guidelines. So if you want to book or within your company, have a no meeting day, or if you want to make sure that every meeting has an agenda in advance before it’s booked. So all the different sorts of guidelines that you may want. And they’re all obviously highly configurable, because every company is going to be slightly different. But this is the first time that there is a way that you can get an entire organization to change their meeting behavior. It’s something that we’ve been working on for a very long time, super proud to announce it to the world. It’s called meeting guidelines. If you’re interested in checking it out, we’d love for you to do that and give us feedback, you can get to it by going to Again, that’s Check it out. And let me know what you think.

So let’s talk about the other thing that you just mentioned in passing, which is, you know, 25 minutes a week, let’s talk about that timing. So 25 minutes is I think for some maybe that feels short. And for others, it may be feels long, potentially it shouldn’t 25 minutes is really not a lot for a manager, like thinking about those sorts of conversations. Like, I guess there’s some variability into how much the timing should be what the frequency should be. Yeah, wondering, like, does it matter on seniority type of role. 

Steven Rogelberg  22:56

So basically, what appears to really matter is the regularity, the predictability of these, that seems to be even more relevant than the actual amount of time, right? So the fact that the employee can count on this time with you, they know what’s coming, that seems to be really the most key, you know, everyone has different amounts of directs. So the book does not say, here’s the magic number of minutes, the one on one should be the book is quite clear that the data is strongly supports, that the best outcomes are associated with weekly one on ones then followed by every other week that we’re very confident on. But I’m fine with a manager flexing the amounts of time for these depending on practical realities. There was a second part of your question.

Aydin Mirzaee  23:39

Yeah. Which is just, you know, in terms of seniority, and okay.

Steven Rogelberg  23:44

So this is actually really cool is we collected some data where we ask people, What is their preferred cadence? And we asked individuals who are junior, and we ask people who are senior. And what we found, contrary to generational stereotypes, is that the more senior people actually desired, the most amount of one on one, so really, and they wanted these once a week. And if you were stop and reflect, that’s actually not a big surprise, right? Senior leaders know how incredibly valuable FaceTime is with your manager. And so they get it, and they embrace it. But in general, the average is people want these things weekly. Now, that might not be practical, always. So it could be every other week, and we still get good gains. It’s just that once you move to more of a monthly cadence model, you know, the gains definitely dropped quite a bit, because you start to lose the spirit of the one on one which is momentum continuity with a monthly cadence, you have a big recency bias that kicks in. So a monthly is better than nothing, but it’s definitely not as good as weekly or every other week.

Aydin Mirzaee  24:50

So one other question I have is, I know that you talk about four steps of one on one’s pre start start the heart and the end. I’d love to maybe touch on that. And the other thing related is, I know you want to have a structure to the one on one, you can have a light structure. And I’ve heard as a best practice for you know, other guests on the show people have referred to Oh, and then maybe once a quarter, I’d like to dedicate a one on one for career development. And, you know, go kind of like intermix the structure, which is not just like, micro based on each one on one, but it’s like a holistic approach. So if we have 12 of these, like one of them will be about this. And then yeah, so maybe let’s start with the four steps of the one on ones. How should people think about that? So yeah,

Steven Rogelberg  25:34

I mean, basically, you’ve got this preparation phase, and the preparation phase. I mean, we could talk about this for a long time, right, because the book lays this all out. And so I’m just give you some highlights to whet your appetite. But you know, the preparation phase, you know, that’s really about reviewing your notes, identifying some past themes that you’ve observed, you know, you if the employee was working on something, you know, that would be good for you to kind of make a note of it that way, you can kind of follow up and say, Hey, how’s that going? Yeah, that’s a nice signal to the employee that this is that you’re truly listening. And another key part of that, PrEP is the mindset. And I, one of the things I talked about in the book that I think is really fascinating is something called the Pygmalion effect. And this was initially observed in teachers, that when teachers that basically students rise to the level of your expectations, so as a teacher, if your expectation is that the student is lazy, you actually act in particular ways that lead to that person being lazy, right, you don’t take the extra effort to give them attention, give them the guidance, because in your minds, they’re lazy, so they act lazy. And this applies to one on ones, when you go into that one on one. If you have the mindset that your employees can grow, they can learn they can thrive, then that’s going to affect the questions you ask and how you listen and engage. So all these things, right, the capturing what’s you know, being mentally prepared, being actually prepared by looking at your notes, all is helpful, then during the meeting itself, obviously, the key is to refresh on the lightweight plan, and then give the director the option to completely throw it out. And you can say, Hey, okay, this is what we worked on, is this still what you want to talk about? And what’s most important to you, once you have clarity on that, right, that gives you a good sense of what success looks like, because that’s what’s on their minds. And then the conversation, you know, is one where you’re really listening, you’re asking, help me understand, tell me more, right? Your job is to really understand some of it might ask you to share your ideas. But in many regards, you want to encourage the director share their ideas. This is another big mistake, and one on ones where the while the manager can share their perspective. You know, we want them to get the direct to share their perspective, and then pick your battles. It’s often the case that managers think that if the direct solution doesn’t match theirs, that they shouldn’t intercede, and it’s just not correct, right? If there’s a big meaningful gap between their solution and yours, find intercede, but other than that, you let it go, it might just work. And if it doesn’t, that can be additional conversation. But when you let the individual proceed with their idea, they’re going to be much more bought in, they’re going to persevere. And it conveys trust and respect. And so what I talked about in the book is it’s just really iterative process, you know, depending on what the direct bring brooches, here’s a potential process for you to follow. And so I just created this very lightweight, nimble approach with different kinds of contingencies for the manager to prepare themselves. So there’s that’s the heart. And then you know, the conclusion is so critical, right? The conclusion is where you start really identifying what did we decide on? Who’s supporting what, what are our expectations, and you’re writing it down. And what our research actually showed is that old school notetaking was the best approach that when you have a notebook and a pen, and you start jotting it down, it’s another one of those signals that you’re taking this really seriously. And then, you know, clearly you got to act, you got to do what you say. So that’s kind of the general process that can lead to success.

Aydin Mirzaee  29:12

Yeah, it is very interesting, especially when you talk about the conclusion. I mean, two things. One is the conclusion and actually doing what you say. And that really reinforces that you are listening and you do care. And this idea of, you know, the employees will rise your expectation. So it’s almost, when you walk into this meeting, you have to think about the person that you’re meeting with as someone that can advance can grow can rise higher, and with that mentality, I think it’ll seep through in the conversation. So action items coming out of these meetings. A lot of times we like to say that meetings should have action items. Should one on ones have action items always sometimes never does it matter.

Steven Rogelberg  29:53

The answer is sometimes there could be plenty of times where the employee just wants to broach issues to get them off there. just talked about it and no actions are needed. So there’s not a prescribed formula about what these will look like at the end. But it’s rare to have no actions, right? Even if the action is checking in with the employee after three or four days later just to see how things are going. So typically, there’s something that arises from it. But there’s not a litmus test for how many, or what a good one looks like. Because, again, we’re relinquishing that power, right, we’re giving that power to the direct. And I do want to circle back to what you started. You know, one of the things I talked about in the book is this notion of either dedicating X minutes every one on one for a longer horizon topic, or dedicating every fourth one or one to a longer horizon topic. But you know, we basically just don’t want these things to become about fighting fires, which is kind of our tendency. So we want to just keep weaving in other types of possibilities for the direct to consider. And so in the book, I lay out a variety of different possibilities. And then you could choose from those possibilities, you can rotate new possibilities. And as you do this, you know, asking good questions is the heart of a one on one. But I do want to give you an example of how a good response option matters. And a good example, is a very common question and one on ones, which is, how are you? Right? That’s a common question. How are you? Well, interestingly, that question doesn’t work. When you ask someone, how are you, they typically give you automatic responses, right? I’m fine, pretty good, great. You don’t have much to work with. But if you actually just do a little tweak, and I’m going to share this tweak, because you could insert it in lots of different places. But I think it makes the point that if we want these conversations to be deep and meaningful, we want to think about the questions and the response approach. So if I asked you reflect on how things are going for you at work, you know, how are you showing up today? And I want you to answer though, on a 10 point scale, with one being terrible. 10 being I’m great. How are you? When you do that? Next thing, you know, you’re getting scores of five, six, and seven. Now you have something to work with. Now, you could say, Tell me more? Why are you a six? How could you become an eight? And it might be the case that the person says, Well, I’m having these challenges or could be, you know, at work, it could be the case, they say, Well, I’m having some really big challenges with work flexibility, I have an aging parent I’m taking care of. And it’s just hard to get things done. Right. So who knows where it could go. But by playing with the response options, again, it promotes a rich conversation.

Aydin Mirzaee  32:42

Yeah, what a great tweak. And it is all about getting behind the first layer and going deeper and establishing that rapport. So what sort of tactical thing that I’ll ask you, as we’re to wrap up here, is for the listeners, and I think like a lot of listeners of the podcast, you know, work at maybe a technology company worked with a lot of engineers, and I’m sure you’ve heard your fair share of anecdotes, but there’s always this, you’re about to have a one on one. And then you know, people will send a message to each other on Slack have anything to talk about, nope, you? Nope. And then you know, cancel. And so or sometimes I’ve heard people say, Well, I walk into the meeting. And it’s like, pulling teeth. It’s just the information doesn’t flow the person on the other side, one word responses to every question. And so how do you think about those sorts of things where people are not like dying to have the one on one right on the other side? 

Steven Rogelberg  33:39

So what we have in the data, by the way, is when someone’s not dying to have a one on one is because the one on ones suck. That’s the biggest predictor. That’s an important one. So I think that’s important to know, if your people are saying they don’t want one. That’s data, you’re not doing it, right. Because that’s very valuable to know, when it’s going well, everyone wants them, right. I mean, who wouldn’t want a conversation focused on their needs and issues and challenges, cancellations, the employee certainly could cancel if they’d like a manager should almost never cancel, the manager cancels, that’s a signal that you don’t really care, at least in the minds of the employee. If you do need to cancel, you should just move up the meeting, make it sooner rather than later. And or you just dial back time, if you have to travel for a trip that you didn’t know about, then find 15 minutes at the airport to have that one on one. Those are just really important signals. The reason why there could be dead space is because these things just haven’t been rolled out effectively. As a manager. If you say to your employee, listen, I really want you to thrive. And I want to help in any way I can. And I want these one on ones to be this opportunity to promote your thriving and we could talk about anything that’s on your mind. And here are a variety of options. And I want you to think short term and long term and give some examples. That’s going to end up inspiring the employee to start thinking differently. When we don’t provide that broad guidance, then yeah, employees might say, Well, what do I have to talk about, but when you share a large menu of options, they won’t have a problem identifying something. And, you know, also a little awkwardness or little silence and a one on one, that’s fine. Deal with it. Right? That’s not a problem. Right? If there’s a little pause, okay, just keep your mouth quiet, and let it resolve itself. You know, ultimately, what will happen is the employee will share something else. Now, if it’s really awkward, as a manager, you can say, you know, so tell me about X, you know, what are your thoughts? How’s that going for you? Right, so you can kind of Prop as needed. But if you established kind of the vision and the goals and provided a set of potential options, and, and really clarified why you’re doing these, you know, I don’t think people have a hard time figuring out some meaningful topics to broach. 

Aydin Mirzaee  35:59

Yeah, I think when you said that, if people don’t want to have the one on ones, it’s a signal that the one on ones suck, I think that says it all. There’s no excuses. So if that’s happening, there are ways to solve it. And the best way, I think, is to pick up Stevens new book. So obviously, every manager every leader should read this. Is this also like, should it manager buy copies for all of their direct reports? Or like, how do you think about this? Isn’t everybody book, right?

Steven Rogelberg  36:23

It is, it is. So I designate certain chapters that are really direct focus, first leader focused, but I absolutely frame this as it takes two to tango. And while the manager has a greater responsibility The director has to so I have this one chapter where I say, here are the 10 things directors need to do going into their one on one, even get into, you know how to ask for help, and what that should look like, you know, for example, you know, we know from the science that there’s two general approaches to help seeking, one is autonomous, help seeking and the other is dependent, dependent, as you’re looking just for the answer from someone, autonomous as you’re just seeking information. So you can make right so that you can help yourself, those employees who engage in more autonomous help seeking lo and behold, are your best performers. So I lay out, you know, how do you engage in more autonomous help seeking, and, you know, the directs, ultimately will be future leaders likely carrying out one on ones? So yeah, it’s completely irrelevant. The other kind of fun twist is that the learnings from this book can be applied to one on one meetings you have with your children. Oh, excellent. And they fully aligned with what we know from parenting and clinical work. And that might sound crazy the thought of having a one on one with meeting with your kid. But you should. It doesn’t have to be this rigid calendar hold. But children want to be seen. And we often don’t take 20, 15-25 minutes and just sit down and literally say, what’s on your mind? How are things going? What are the biggest things you’re struggling with? Right? So taking these lessons and skills from what we know about having one on ones with their directs, they can all be extended. And that’s another I think, fun application of this book. So I definitely I hope people will check it out. I think there’s a lot to it. I personally think it’s much better than my first book. And my first book I thought was pretty good. I think this one, I was much better at it this time, right? So I was no longer a brand new author. I feel really excited about it. And, you know, again, the bonus is that all my royalties are all going to charity, everything’s going to American Cancer Society. So people can buy the book, they want to learn about one on ones or buy the book of they just want to help eliminate cancer.

Aydin Mirzaee  38:38

Awesome. I love it. So many good points. And you know, for all the longtime listeners, we’ve got our Supermanagers slack workspace. So for everyone who’s gonna read Steve’s book, we’ll have a discussion there and talk about the learnings and what you’re going to change about your one on ones and it’s gonna be great. And so Steven, thank you so much for spending the time with us. And it’s really good to see you again.

Steven Rogelberg  38:59

I enjoyed it. And again, thank you for all that you’re doing to try to elevate meetings in organizations.

Aydin Mirzaee  39:06

And that’s it for today. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of the Supermanagers podcast. You can find the show notes and transcript at If you liked the content, be sure to rate review and subscribe, so you can get notified when we post the next episode. And please tell your friends and fellow managers about it. It’d be awesome if you can help us spread the word about the show. See you next time.

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