An important key to professional growth is one-on-one meeting time with your supervisor.
You may be one of the fortunate folks who has regularly scheduled sessions with your manager. Or, you may have to ask for appointment time.
As a professional, go into the appointment with confidence, even if your manager has been the one to call for the meeting.
You may welcome these meetings, or you may be apprehensive — especially if your boss has been the one to set the appointment.
In either case, you can take steps to make the most of these individual meetings to benefit you, your supervisor and your organization.
Tip 1: Be Prepared
Be clear with your manager about the purpose of your meeting, and maximize the time you have together.
If you’ve asked for the meeting, prepare an agenda that names a goal and the main points you want to cover. This will help you focus your thoughts and clarify exactly what you need from your time together.
If you have regularly scheduled, one-on-one check-in meetings, you’ll want to be able to offer succinct updates on tasks or projects by providing information that helps your manager do her work and that assures her you are doing yours. Point out what’s on target with timeline or budget, what isn’t and what you’re doing about that.
You’ll also want to ask for the approval, contact or resources you need to move your own work forward.
So that you’re not scrambling right before your one-on-one, keep a running list of potential meeting items as they come up throughout the week. By the time you have your meeting, you may have found the answers or solved the problem. At the very least, you’ll have your talking points.
Tip 2: Be Proactive
Whether or not you use a standard agenda format in your meetings, send your agenda to your manager ahead of time — ideally 24 hours ahead of time. This gives your supervisor a heads-up and time to gather information, if necessary.
If one of the goals of your meeting is to address a problem, go into the meeting with at least one solution. Your supervisor is busy. Do the brainstorming ahead of time and send your proposal at least 24 hours ahead of the meeting so your manager can reflect and prepare.
If your boss has requested the meeting and you know the purpose, anticipate, as best you can, any data or information that will be necessary for the conversation. If you are unclear what your supervisor may want, ask how you can best prepare for your face-to-face time.
Tip 3: Be Professional
Save the chitchat. One-on-one meeting time with your manager fuels your growth and supports your work.
Yes, it’s important to build relationships through personal exchange. But work is the purpose of your scheduled meeting time. It’s OK to ask your manager how vacation plans are coming along, or if she has recovered from her whirlwind travel schedule. But, don’t spend more than 3-5 minutes on the social chatter.
Think of it this way: Wasting time by using one-on-one meeting time is actually an insult to your supervisor and her limited time, and it does nothing to serve you, your boss or the business.
As you prepare for and engage in the meeting, remember that you are a professional. Don’t be afraid of your own knowledge, experience and confidence.
If the discussion moves off-track, guide it back with, “I know you’re a busy person, and I appreciate that you make these meetings a priority. Before we run out of time, there are some things that need your input.”
Finally, don’t forget to let your supervisor know what she has done to help, grow or challenge you. We all benefit from (and appreciate) concrete feedback.