1:1 meeting

Thoughts from the Team: Why are 1:1s so important?

This post is the first of a series from the team at Witful, so stay tuned!

Witful was built to make workdays easier. And we’ve found that it’s particularly useful for managers and leaders who meet continuously with their teams in groups and individually.

As current and former managers, and universally as those who have had managers, the team at Witful unanimously feels that 1:1s are important. But why?

Below, we put together some quick thoughts from each member of the team to explore why we think 1:1s are essential to a team and organization’s success, and how our personal experiences have influenced our perceptions of 1:1 meetings. If you’d like to know more about us, check out our team here.

Q: What makes 1:1 meetings so important?

Robert Kluin (Co-founder):

As a manager, I believe having known unstructured, non-status update time with reports is important. It gives them space to share their concerns, excitement, and observations with me directly. That allows me to have a very good pulse on the team and my organization as a whole. I have routinely been able to spot issues and challenges very early because of that. It is uncommon for organizational or personnel issues to surprise me because I get to know my teams personally—I can usually feel when something is off and check in with them. The truly important items always seem to come up at the very end, right as we’re wrapping up, normally as a passing comment… this is your chance to catch major issues early.

As a report, I like having space with my manager to talk through my concerns, questions, and better understand their priorities and how those align to the company. It lets me brainstorm with my boss a little and make sure my strategy feels in alignment with their goals. It also gives me the opportunity to discuss general career direction and get candid feedback and coaching. The most impactful coaching of my career has come from candid feedback in these settings, even when I did not realize it at the time.

Alex Campbell (Engineering):

I think 1:1s are important because I think they provide time to discuss work at a meta level. Everyone in a company of our size is always busy with many micro tasks, so our conversations will by default discuss only short-lived topics. I like having time to evaluate our patterns of working and meeting and think about the long term outcomes of those patterns.

Lindsey Kluin (Product Operations):

1:1s are a critical part of building connections and trust within teams and across organizations. Having consistent time scheduled to simply connect on whatever topics your report is drawn to that day, helps them be heard and valued. This unstructured approach gives managers tremendous insight into who their team members are and therefore helps managers consider how to uniquely support each person’s work-life harmony. 

Depending on many variables, (for example, how much trust has already been established, what expectations have been set (implicit or explicit), or what’s going on in someone’s life at the time), the focus of 1:1’s will vary widely. And that’s fine. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing; it’s about connecting authentically on whatever feels right, ideally with your report in the driver’s seat.

Mike Taylor (Product & Customer Experience):

As a contributor it always felt helpful to know there was a scheduled space to connect with my boss to do two things: share how I feel like I’m doing in my role, and hear how they feel like I’m doing in my role. So as a manager I’ve always tried to do the same for the people reporting to me: give them a safe, reliable space to communicate those two things.

Coury Ditch (Engineering):

It provides a space – outside the context of any particular project – for the employee to bring up questions or concerns to their manager and vice-versa. It’s too easy to get caught up in the minutiae of the day-to-day and not have 10,000 ft. level discussions with your employees/managers. It’s a way to get a pulse check, helps prevent small miscommunications from becoming big ones, and ensures needs and expectations are being addressed.

Maya Shaff (Marketing):

It is vital to connect with team members to learn more about who they are during and outside of work. These meetings should encourage a person to explore their unique relationship to their job, and how their current role and company fit into their value system, personal life and ideal career trajectory.