No other single individual has the power to make your work life rewarding or miserable than the person that signs your review. The simple truth is that your boss has a lot of influence in how your career progresses. Typically, bosses are busy and have a million things running through their minds. That means that they don’t always know what is going on nor do they realize what could be happening on your project. To combat this is simple yet so often not done.
The Most Important Meetings of Your Career
A one-on-one with your boss is the single most important meeting that most people don’t have. One-on-one’s are the one meeting that should never be skipped or blown off. It’s the single most important set of meetings in your career simple because it allows you to align to your bosses expectations consistently. When expectations are set and reevaluated, your relationship with your boss will have no surprises and this will make your work life and your bosses work life much more productive.
The power of the one-on-one lies in it’s consistency. Without a consistent one-on-one, the rhythm of the interaction will soon fad. Consistency and repetition will make the messages stick and that’s the whole point — getting the most accurate information communicated to your boss.
The second most important thing a one-on-one does is allow you to map out a career development path. Career development is the only way to progress to where you want to be and your boss can help you get there. Without this constant focus on your career, I’m afraid your career will stall.
The mechanics of a one-on-one are pretty simple. You will need: a room, two chairs, an agenda and your boss. Pretty simple. The hard part is finding a time when you are both not busy and to make that time productive by eliminating as many distracts as possible. Listed below are several ways to reduce distractions and focus your one-on-one for maximum benefit.
Pick a good time during the week: Preferably at a time that’s not around other meetings that might run late. Usually an hour works.
Create a consistent agenda format: Part of the beauty of a one-on-one is the familiarity of what will be discussed.
Send the agenda ahead of time: If possible, always send the agenda ahead of time. That way, your boss can get a sense of what will be discussed.
Pick a room with no computers: It’s best that the room be away from everyone else and not have any distractions like your lap top.
Bring printed copies of the agenda: A printed agenda allows for you or your boss to make notes to follow up on.
Start and stop on time: Again, consistency is important because you want to create a rhythm where this meeting is an enjoyable, must attend meeting.
It’s All About the Agenda
Probably the single most important item for a successful one-on-one is a well constructed agenda. Your agenda should reflect not only your needs but the needs of your boss. It’s best to propose an agenda first and then to spend your first couple of one-on-one’s refining it. The ingredients of a good agenda include:
Important Updates: Put any updates that are important or need decisions made up front
Project status: Any project you are on or projects that your are responsible for should get a couple of bullets
Discussion topics: These are any topics of interest that go beyond the immediate projects. These may include seminars, development programs or deeper technical discussions.
Vacations or absences: Make sure that you let your boss know early of any vacations or absences so that any coverage issues can be sorted out.
As you hold your one-on-one’s, I am sure you will find the format that works for you. Just remember that with these simple ingredients, you will soon reap the benefits of a more informed boss. The more your boss understands your project status and what you want out of your career, the better. Who knows, maybe one day you will be the boss!