If 2020 taught us anything, it’s how to make homemade sourdough. But we’re not here to talk about that. We’re here so I can share with you my 2 cents on how I think 1:1s have evolved since the pandemic hit us. Nothing scientific about this, just a thoughtful compilation of my observations.

1:1s continue to be crucial for a healthy manager-employee relationship since they’re (ideally) a judgment-free space for people to open up about all sorts of professional matters. Now, if successful 1:1s are starting to seem like full-sleeve tattoos (you know, potentially amazing but somewhat painful) then you might want to consider the following:

No multitasking

With the new normal, grabbing a coffee or going for a walk during 1:1s is out the window, which already sucks, but you know what sucks even more? Having to compete for virtual attention. Be respectful of the other person, turn your chat on mute, minimize the sixty-eight tabs you have open, pause that Survivor episode you have running on the background, and BE PRESENT. Remember, if a 1:1 meeting isn’t feeling engaging it could be in large part because (duh!) YOU are not engaged.

Rules Agendas are made to be broken

Yes, it’s awesome to be prepared and God knows I love me a good list but be ready to go “off the rails”: Ask people how they’re doing, what are their plans for the weekend, or if they’ve seen a good movie lately. It’s so important, especially during these times when the lines between work time and personal time seem to have blurred, to allow yourself to go off script and just have a fun, stimulating conversation with a teammate. 

Skipping is good for you

Skipping is a great cardiovascular exercise and it can help you burn up to 1,600 calories in one hour.* But that’s not the skipping I’m referring to. Here’s where we get controversial—ready? It’s OK to skip your 1:1. I know, I know, every single “1:1 Best Practices Blog” will tell you otherwise, but nowadays we have SO many virtual meetings (SO. MANY.) that perhaps skipping one isn’t all that bad, as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Let’s be honest, some days having one fewer meeting can go a long way.

The 30/60 approach

Have you ever been in a meeting where the stars seem to have aligned, everyone’s on a roll, ideas are flowing, the conversation is stimulating, and then the meeting ends on time? Yeah, me neither. The same goes for 1:1s, you never want to abruptly end an engaging conversation—so, my strategy? I’ll schedule a 30-minute meeting but block myself for one hour just in case we need a few extra minutes. Worst thing that can happen if it’s unnecessary? You get some time back on your cal.