Need someone to lead product or development at your software company? I lead product and engineering teams and I'm looking for my next opportunity. Check out my resume and get in touch.

One on One meetings for managers: Frequency and Duration

Freshness Warning
This article is over 1 year old. It's possible that the information you read below isn't current.

How long should your 1:1s be? How often should you run them?

My default is one hour once a week for people that report to me. The length is important since it often takes people a long time to come around to bringing up difficult topics. People don’t like to discuss hard things and need some time to warm up before they get going.

Some managers like to do half-hour 1:1s, but I find that’s not enough time to dive into meatier topics, and you’re often just getting to the hard parts of the conversations at 25 minutes in.

If you don’t take up the whole hour, that’s fine. Let your report end early. But if they’re consistently running out of things to say 10-15 minutes in, then you probably need to do some things to help the employee have a more effective 1:1. More on how to do that in a future blog post.

I start with once a week because this is sometimes the only time my team is talking to me, especially if you have a distributed team. While I encourage them to bring up things that can’t wait if they come up between 1:1s, sometimes they just don’t feel comfortable doing that. Having a weekly checkpoint makes sure that things don’t go too long before getting handled.

If someone’s a lot more senior in their role and self-sufficient, it might make sense to push these back to every other week. A CEO probably doesn’t need to talk to the VP of Sales that’s been with them 15 years every single week. Same with the tech lead on your team that’s been a tech lead with this same team for many years. But it’s important to realize that a senior person is only senior for that specific role. If you take a 20-year employee and put them in a new role, they’re no longer senior and probably need to talk a whole lot more.

This is one of a series of posts about holding 1:1s. View the rest of the series.

Recently Written

A framework for onboarding new employees (May 15)
There’s no single good way to onboard an employee that works for every role. Here's a framework for creating a process that you can adapt to each situation.
TV hosts as a guide for software managers (May 10)
Software managers can learn a lot from journalists or late night TV hosts and how they interview people.
The Improvement Flywheel (Apr 29)
An incredible flywheel for the improvement of a development team. Fix a few things, and everything starts getting better.
Managers and technical ability (Dec 26)
In technical fields, the closer you are to the actual work being done, the closer your skills need to resemble those of the people doing the work.
Dysfunctions of output-oriented software teams (Sep 17)
Whatever you call it, the symptom is that you're measuring your progress by how much you build and deliver instead of measuring success by the amount of customer value you create.
Evaluative and generative product development (Aug 30)
Customers never even talk to the companies that don't fit their needs at all. If the only product ideas you're considering are those that meet the needs of your current customers, then you're only going to find new customers that look exactly like your current customers.
Product Manager Career Ladder (Aug 19)
What are the steps along the product management career path?
Building the Customer-Informed Product (Aug 15)
Strong products aren't composed of a list of features dictated by customers. They are guided by strong visions, and the execution of that vision is the primary focus of product development.

Older...

What I'm Reading

Contact

Adam Kalsey

+1 916 600 2497

Resume

Public Key

© 1999-2020 Adam Kalsey.