Maintaining an effective and efficient agenda is important to get the best out of the 1-1 (read as: one to one) meetings you have with your team members. Furthermore this page will take you through other tips and tricks to conduct an effective 1-1 meeting.
We recorded a training about 1-1s which you can find here:
The Learning & Development team and the CEO, discuss conducting a 1-to-1 in more detail during a handbook learning session.
We recorded a training about career mapping which you can find here:
These discussions should take place once a month and after the 360 Feedback meeting has taken place. As a manager of people you play a crucial part in developing careers for your reports. This is for them but you should be able to support this process and help them achieve their goals. This is a join collaboration so prior to the meeting think about what questions to ask, specifically identifying competencies(c), skill gaps(sg) and career objectives (co). Adrienne Smith who wrote increase employee retention with career pathing suggests the following:
Once you have established the goals you can then create a career development plan
Providing team members with a clear path of advancement within the group, department or division that includes career development opportunities is a win-win-win for team members, managers and GitLab. Team members who are challenged, engaged and who are actively contributing relevant solutions stay with organizations. An engaged workforce allows the department and divisions to meet their current and future needs for talent and skills and increases performance and decreases regrettable attrition.
Please make sure as a manager you have reviewed the Career Development Section in the handbook
There are many reasons that career development conversations are important. Below are a few examples though there are many more reasons.
For managers, having career development conversations offers them a chance to help develop team members which then has an impact on the overall organization. It's a critical skill for those serious about increasing their teams' productivity and performance. Development conversations will help the group, department, division and GitLab retain great team members, which at the end of the day also contributes to the manager's own success.
On top of increasing performance, these career development conversations allow managers to build a bench of top talent contributor and create a succession pipeline. This will help reduce worries about losing top talent and who the team can turn to for critical tasks. Good managers know that if you have a strong bench, you have a lot less to worry about.
When it comes down to, it the best managers or leaders — the ones that team members want to have and are happy continue being part of the team. These are the managers that take an interest in their team members lives and career. By learning about what your team members wants, what they strive for and by being able to help them drive to their goals, you will build credibility, trust and respect. This in turns also contributes to your overall success as a manager.
A managers's job is not to just drive to OKRs and performance. It is also to attract, engage and retain top talent team members and maximize their contribution to the group, department or division. If you are interested in your team members aspirations and success, you will attract top talent because people will want to work for you. Once you get great team members on board, you will need a plan to get them and keep them engaged. Career development can be and should be one of the ways you as a manager invest your time and energy to help drive engagement, performance and results.
Career development conversations are vital for the team members, managers and GitLab's success. However, not all managers are prepared to address career development due to either lack of experience in having these conversations or a fear that the conversation will be difficult or unpleasant. Here are a few other reasons that managers may avoid having these conversations:
Not discounting these concerns, but as a manager it is your job to engage team members in meaningful career development conversations.
If a team members expectations or timeframe is unrealistic, you can explore having them use their time to find opportunities that will engage and prepare them for when their opportunities arise. If they are ready for promotion but the opportunity is not in scope or plan for the business it is best to be transparent with the team member. Discuss any timeline of if/when a position may be available or if there is no plan currently to add that role. You can also work with the team member to look for internal opportunities like internship or cross collaborative projects to help keep the team member engaged while continuing in their role.
If a team members expresses career ambitions that are beyond their current skill set, then that is an opportunity to talk about the next level skills and experience that might help prepare them to get them where they want to go. If your department or division has job matrices or competencies this is a good time to review those with the team member. Technical skills are only one part of the team members ability to continue to grow and succeed. If there are issues with attitude and behaviors this is a good time to also share what the team member needs to work on in regards soft skills as part of their career growth and development.
If you are concerned that your career development conversation could be construed as a promise of a promotion, focus the conversation around skills gap development and opportunities. Try to focus on the things needed now rather than focusing on a specific time frame.
It is possible that some team members may leave for other opportunities after they acquire a new skill set. However, it is even more possible that they will leave if they believe you or GitLab is not interested in their career aspirations or development. Engaging in meaningful career development conversations show that you as a manager care about them personally and their future development.
As a manager part of your job is to learn more about the team members you manage. What are their skills, interests and career goals? The tone of the career development conversation should be transparent, encouraging, curious and show that you are interested and invested in the team member. Spend some time before you have a conversation to think about the following:
Career development conversations shouldn't be done on a whim or just "winging it," but instead these should be thought out and conversations that you prepare for ahead of time. You should come prepare to provide to provide to offer team members feedback, offer suggestions and to ask pertinent questions.
Team members want feedback on their strengths, performance and their potential within GitLab. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
Since you are already having regular 1:1s with your team member you may have ideas regarding your team members development aspirations. Plan ahead and take the time to think about what questions they may ask and come prepared to the conversation.
Coming to the meeting with an open mind and the willingness to learn more about the team members career development aspirations will set the right tone for the conversation.
A best practice could be having the team member start the meeting by expressing their goals for the conversation. Your job as a manager is to listen and understand their desires and help them explore options that may be available for reaching those goals. Try and refrain from interjecting, let the team member finish before you start talking. Try not to be judgemental on what they say, different people will have different career goals and it is important to respect their ideas. However, this can also be a time for you to provide them with feedback, suggestions, recommendations and guidance. It can also be an opportunity for you to connect them with different people within GitLab and additional resource that support their identified career path.
As a manager you should follow up on the goals and activities you both identify. This will show the team member that you do listen and have a vested interest in their future success. Also, career conversations should not be a one-time annual conversation. A best practice is to meet at least quarterly for a check-in. Keep in mind some team members may want to meet more often and some less frequently.
If asked, share your career goals with your team members. This transparency shows that you are not only willing to hear their career goals, but you are also willing to share your own career path. That could also include discussing with your team members the areas that you have identified to focus on in the future. Be open about questions regarding your own career path and experiences to date. Your team member may be able to take away some valuable lessons that you have learned in your own journey.
Below are several recommended articles regarding career development conversations.
Actively Listen. Self-assessment is difficult and people often overestimate or underestimate their skillset. Don’t be quick to discount their assessment. Look for common ground and focus on understanding their overall goals.
Control. Maintain control of the conversation to ensure it stays on track. The focus should be on their current skillset and abilities and how to cultivate those for a career path within the company.
Adaptation. Adapting your approach to different personality types is key. People that overestimate their skillsets should be given specifics on where they do, and don’t, meet expectations. They may need areas of failing to be pointed out more plainly (but always caringly). Those that underestimate their skillset may need more emphasis on what they are doing right as they tend to focus on the negative. Also, not everyone wants to advance. Some are very happy in the role they are in and want to stay there. That should also be supported. Learn more in our Learning & Development Handbook.
When taking over management of an existing team member, consider the following guidelines to ensure the team member experiences a psychologically safe transition.
In an effort to be transparent, managers should consider ensuring that all of the information provided to the future manager by the current manager is done in full view of the team member. This might not work for all team members. You should ask whether the team member will feel comfortable having this conversation openly, and respect their boundaries. When choosing to remain transparent, schedule a transition meeting and follow the Manager Transition Meeting Agenda.
The following schedule can ensure a smooth transition:
Abrupt 1-1 transitions can threaten a team member's sense of psychological safety and career stability. If this is a concern, consider scheduling follow-on 1-1-1 transition meetings.
TEAM MEMBER, in the coming weeks I will transition management support to FUTURE MANAGER. This is an opportunity for you to comment, agree, and disagree with how your performance, feedback, professional goals, growth areas, and 1:1 document content is shared with FUTURE MANAGER. We want to ensure you have a complete picture of the information we share. The goal is to make sure we’re transparent in the transition of your career, how you want to grow, and how I can support you.
We understand that this meeting format may feel a bit awkward as we will openly discuss your work performance. This is all in the service of the goal to fully support you.
Shadowing a 1-1 is a scenario in which a GitLab team member attends the 1-1 of their manager and their manager's manager. The intent of this model to provide trust through transparency, build connections between team members and leaders who they may not otherwise interact with regularly, and open opportunities for collaboration be providing a broader knowledge to team members. The shadowed 1-1 is exemplified by Sid by having the CEO Shadows attend 1-1s with his direct reports.
Portions of the agenda will be suitable for sharing and others will not. Care should be taken to separate items that could breach our communication guidelines or potentially reveal confidential information. A suggestion on how to handle this would either be to not share the agenda with the shadow(s) or have a separate agenda for private items, these are just suggestions.
Attendance could be limited to direct reports but could also include other people. A suggestion might be to have a sign up for attendance and, in order to maintain the relationship and support expected to arise from 1-1 meetings, alternate shadow weeks with non-shadowed weeks. Suggest having a separate zoom link for shadowed 1-1s.
An engineering manager decides to open up their 1-1 meetings to their team. The engineering manager checks with their manager that this is acceptable and determines a plan for review. When a shadow will be present, this should be indicated clearly on the agenda. Utilising a separate zoom link, all 3 people join and walk through the agenda. Participation level of the team member is up to the regular participants of the 1-1 but, consider encouraging engagement. At a point where sensitive topics need to be discussed, the team member will be asked to leave.
Leadership Engagement Check-Ins, (also known as Stay Interviews) are conducted to help leadership improve retention in their teams. It helps them understand why team members stay and what might cause them to leave. In a Leadership Engagement Check-In, people managers ask standard, structured questions in a casual and conversational manner.
Start the conversation by explaining the purpose of the meeting and why it’s important to you as a manager. An example is below.
"Thanks for taking the time to have this check-in conversation. Team member engagement is very important to me, and this talk is a way to better understand how things are going for you and how I can help to improve your experience at GitLab. I would like to talk with you about the reasons you stay with GitLab so I understand what I can do to make this a great place to work for you."
It’s important to listen and gather feedback from the team member about how they feel about GitLab in an objective manner:
To close the Engagement Check-In, summarize the key points discussed, and work with the team member to develop an engagement plan (if applicable). Be sure to end on a positive note. An example is below.
"Let me summarize what I heard you say about the reasons you stay at GitLab, as well as reasons you might leave. Then, let’s develop a plan to make this a great place for you to work. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me today. I am committed to doing what I can to make this a great place for you to work."
If, during the Engagement Check-In, issues arise around health, performance, compensation, etc. and you need assistance, please work directly with your manager or your People Business Partner.
After the call has closed, capture some notes about what was discussed and share with the team member to ensure you heard their feedback correctly. It is important to do this for all team members - even if they had positive feedback about their engagement level.
For team members who had positive feedback, you will want to continue to find opportunities that align to things that make for a positive experience for them. For team members that had constructive feedback, you will want to use your notes as a start of an engagement plan.