A lot of managers and team members find 1-1s very useful. This short FAQ is intended to help you get the most out of them.
What are 1-1s and why should I do them?
The most important part of any manager's role at PostHog is setting context. 1-1s can be valuable opportunity to do this by diving deeper into topics which may not be easy to cover in other contexts like GitHub or sprint planning.
Most people do a weekly or bi-weekly 1-1 with their manager, with a 30min minimum. Any less than this is too short or infrequent.
Sounds easy enough - what’s the problem?
It’s very easy for 1-1s to:
- Not happen because you’re both too busy
- Just be a regular status update on tasks or projects
- Be a general chat without much direction
None of these options are terribly useful for either party.
Ok, so how do I have a great 1-1?
If you are a manager, ask better questions! The 1-1 should be a conversation, not just a status update. Of course you will naturally touch on discuss what’s going on that week, but your 1-1 should ideally be person-centric rather than project-centric.
Julie Zhuo suggests the following buckets of questions you might find useful in her excellent book ‘The Making of a Manager’:
- What’s top of mind for you right now?
- What priorities are you thinking about this week?
- What’s the best use of our time today?
- What does your ideal outcome look like for what you're currently working on?
- What’s hard for you in getting to that outcome?
- What do you really care about?
- What do you think is the best course of action?
- What’s the worst-case scenario you’re worried about?
- How can I help you?
- What can I do to make you more successful?
- What was the most useful part of our conversation today?
Obviously the intention here is not to just race through the questions above like a robot - they are simply suggestions for useful ways to engage in a more insightful way with your team. Some people like a structured approach, others prefer something looser - tailor the 1-1 based on your team member's needs.
The last word...
“The ideal 1:1 leaves your report feeling that it was useful for her. If she thinks that the conversation was pleasant but largely unmemorable, you can do better.” - Julie Zhuo
If you want to learn more, check out First Round Review for at least another 6 articles on the subject.