Table of contents
- What is a one-on-one meeting?
- Why software development teams need regular one-on-one meetings
- Benefits of one-on-one meetings in tech companies
One-on-one meetings for software development teams are a vital aspect of each sprint and software development lifecycle as a whole.
Because of the COVID pandemic and the resulting rapid shift to remote workflows, managers have to stay in touch with all team members, keep them updated, and provide meaningful feedback. To capture all employee touchpoints, managers have to apply principles of psychology and utilize one-on-one meeting templates.
In this guide, you’ll get familiar with the concept of 1:1 meetings. You’ll also learn about how personal touch influences not only employee performance but also the outcome of your project.
What is a one-on-one meeting?
A one-on-one meeting is a scheduled conversation between two individual members of a team.
In tech companies, these meetings are usually held between a team’s manager and engineers. Its main objective is to update developers on the global situation of the project, identify blockers, prioritize tasks, and shed more light on other organizational issues.
In terms of time management, group meetings might seem less time-consuming and more efficient. However, getting to know each team member personally and learning about their challenges individually are what nurture trust and increase dedication to the project long-term.
One-on-one employee meetings aren’t confined to solving project issues. For example, HR specialists can also solicit feedback about the working conditions inside the company. Additionally, mentors can glean the project’s overall progress based on the individual progress that each mentee reports during a 1:1 meeting.
Why software development teams need regular one-on-one meetings
For each project sprint, managers should distribute tasks to team members, monitor the progress and, in some cases, report back to clients. This is one reason that one-on-one meetings with each member of the software development team is crucial. They provide updates about each engineer’s current milestones, roadblocks, and personal vision of the project. This information helps managers sync the workflow of all developers and deliver quality results on time.
Another reason that one-on-one meetings are important is that they provide an avenue for managers to ask about each employee's personal feelings. Software projects can get intense, and sometimes engineers push themselves to the limit to meet deadlines. One-on-one conversations can prevent burnout and keep productivity high. If managers are able to identify problems in a timely fashion, they might want to offer employees some help to manage workflow, a day off from work to recharge, or compensation for overtime.
In this digital age, the demand for digital products — and software engineers who make them — is unprecedented. Every day, competent developers get dozens of job opportunities that offer them six-digit salaries. That’s why, to keep your most valuable employees, it’s paramount that they’re comfortable in your company. One-on-one meetings with software teams allow you to build trust and transparency about their career path, as well as to learn about potential problems like an uncomfortable workplace, uncompetitive salaries, and other issues that may motivate your employees to migrate to another company.
Before you start implementing the practice, find organizational tips for engineering managers on how to hold effective 1:1 meetings with your dev team in our blog post.
Benefits of one-on-one meetings
Clearly, one-on-one meetings with software teams can accelerate the development process and keep your employees happy. Developers, engineering managers, and the business — all parties win from implementing this tool in their practice.
Benefits to software engineers
Employees are the lifeline of any company. It’s important to keep them happy. 1:1 meetings are held in order to satisfy the interests of employees in the first place. So, here are the main benefits to developers:
- Clarity in the company’s personal goals. If there’s no regular personal contact with a manager or their peers, developers may feel that they make no contribution to the project. Or, they may feel stuck with boring tasks that provide them with no professional growth. So, during a one-on-one meeting, developers can explain the problem to managers in a private and trusted atmosphere. Having discussed issues, engineers won't blame themselves for whatever project obstacles might be in the way. In fact, with a manager’s support, the developer might be inspired to approach the problem from a different angle and thereby better empowered to solve it.
- Professional growth. During personal meetings, constructive feedback and discussions about career can give employees not only an opportunity to improve their skills but also a glimpse into their long-term career path with the company.
- Burnout prevention. Weekly and monthly one-on-ones with engineers on their workload and performance will help them avoid developer burnout. An honest talk may decrease stress in the employee, as well as help the boss realize that the workload is excessive and/or that help is necessary.
- Feeling engaged. Most developers, spending their day coding most of the time, tend to have an introverted lifestyle. So, regular one-on-one meetings will help them to overcome isolation and feel more included in the process. It’s always nice to feel noticed and supported.
- Conflict resolution. An honest dialogue can help delicately broach sensitive topics, resolve conflicts, and manage previously overlooked issues. If working conditions don't match the employee’s expectations, 1:1 meetings can work out a compromise to settle the problem.
Benefits to engineering managers
Managing human beings by relying only on data from project management software such as Jira is a bad idea. One-on-ones are a great tool to transform from a regular manager to a leader in the eyes of employees. 1:1 meetings help a manager to:
- Build personal contact with each team member. With one-on-one meetings, managers can better understand people they work with, find out their strengths and weaknesses, and create a convenient and trustful working atmosphere.
- Increase employee retention. Keeping a team of good employees is always easier (and cheaper!) than hiring new ones. So, with one-on-ones, a manager can create additional motivation for their employees by giving them the possibility for growth and professional development inside the company.
- Boost team performance. During one-on-ones, performance reviews can be conducted, skills assessed, and objectives and key results (OKRs) set. All of these can keep employees motivated and engaged in the process. Also, being kept informed on the company’s work cycle and making a personal contribution to common goals can foster a sense of meaning and camaraderie.
- Resolve issues. Once a manager builds a trustful atmosphere and sets a practice of regular communication with employees, they’re better equipped to effectively settle crisis situations and prevent future conflicts.
- Improve leadership skills. During a one-on-one, a manager can get feedback about how they can help and what issues should be resolved. It’s a win-win — developers grow as professionals and become better at teamwork, and their manager learns how to tackle the issues.
Benefits to businesses
Each software company’s success depends on the performance of its development teams.
- One-on-one meetings with each member of a software development team can uncover problems that influence the company’s operational processes and limit its growth potential. Treating each employee as an individual improves the quality of their work and helps your business get things done in time.
- 1:1 meetings improve your company’s brand image. Knowing that every person in the company is heard and gets valuable feedback about their efforts, potential candidates will more likely accept your job offers.
- One-on-one meetings allow each employee to keep their hands on the pulse of the company, understand future perspectives, and realize where the company is heading at the moment. Raising employee engagement is what helps build a true team of professionals dedicated to the business.
One-on-one meetings with development teams are beneficial for both businesses and their employees. Treating each team member as a human being rather than a resource is what distinguishes an outstanding company. When all employees feel like they're at the right place, doing the right thing, overall productivity will skyrocket.
That’s why you should implement 1:1 meetings in your tech company right now. In the long term, it ensures a high level of employee retention, improves the company image, and makes you stand out among other employers.
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