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Why Managing Employees Effectively Includes 1-on-1 Performance Feedback

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Paco Flores

“Am I a good manager?”

If you’re like us, you’ve probably asked yourself this question on more than one occasion. The age old mystery of what makes a good manager has sparked many theories over the years, some useful and some (really) not. While anecdotes are nice, what we look for is hard evidence.

So, we did some digging….

When it comes to employee performance feedback, less is not always more

In a recent study of people management by The Predictive Index, their data uncovers that employees actually enjoy feedback. To give a closer look, the chart below shows employee respondent ratings of managers on a scale of 1-10. (10 being the highest rating, and 1 being the lowest.)

bar graph showing employee ratings of manager feedback

This study also revealed that 44% of managers are still giving little to no feedback, meaning the majority of respondents lie within two categories, the first being “I don’t get any feedback,” and the second being “I get some feedback, but not as much as I’d like.”

It may not be surprising that employees prefer to be given the “right amount of feedback,” but an interesting find is that giving too much performance feedback is still preferred over less. Don’t be afraid to share your insights with your employees if you feel it could be useful to them in the long run.

Another study by Gallup found that 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive helps them do better work, and 23% of employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful performance feedback to them.

To put it lightly, these are scary numbers.

From each of these findings, we now know for certain that to be an effective manager, you must provide meaningful employee feedback to everyone on your team. Ideally, you will do that on a regular basis and in-person. This has come to be known as a 1-on-1.

Since 1-on-1 feedback is so vital to high performance, we recently produced a webinar on the importance of regular 1-on-1 feedback and a walkthrough of one of our most popular features:


Importance of the 1-on-1

Companies can effectively drive employee engagement through one step- recurring and impactful 1-on-1 conversations. In a previous post, 15Five CEO, David Hassel discusses the true value of 1-on-1s and how they benefit all parties in the long run:

“It seems counterintuitive that spending time will free up time, but that’s exactly what these meetings can do. 1-on-1s help managers to get out of overwhelm by making sure that every employee is focused on the right task. Taking a few minutes to coach employees frees up your time to focus on your own work with the confidence that you won’t be putting out fires later.”

Over the course of time, benefits of 1-on-1 meetings don’t stop at streamlined work efficiencies. These dedicated moments of listening and engaging with your employee will contribute to a deeper sense of belonging at the company and allow for mentorship along the way. As a manager, this is when giving the right amount of performance feedback becomes organic and intuitive.

The 1-on-1 meeting revisited

1-on-1s are not intended for minor status updates or task overviews, they are your opportunity as a manager to be purposeful and delve deeper into the needs of every direct report.

The most valuable part of your week should be the uninterrupted time you schedule with your employee. Through this time, you are helping to bridge the gap between often ambiguous digital communication and quality face-to-face conversation.

15Five not only holds you and your employees accountable for attending 1-on-1 meetings, but more importantly it helps everyone focus on what matters most without wasting valuable time. Your employees will begin to feel seen, heard, and challenged in their work.

Here are a few tips for how to bring more value to your 1-on-1s:

1. Create the space

Before you begin the meeting, be intentional and set the context of human care. These moments to connect should foster a relationship based on mutual respect and personal investment.

From there, you can proceed to check in with the other’s mental space. How are you feeling? Do you feel fully present? If your direct report doesn’t feel they are in a safe space to be open, they may respond with an inauthentic answer that reflects what they think you want to hear. Build trust by sharing first and setting the tone.

2. Have an agenda

In order to be efficient in a 1-on-1 meeting, you must be purposeful with the direction of the conversation. This time with your employee is a collaborative effort, and agenda items should be based on concerns from both sides. Don’t forget to include talking points that support both the employee’s professional and personal developmental objectives.

By providing a thoughtful agenda prior to an upcoming 1-on-1, managers can save time by turning performance feedback into swift action.

3. Address the highs and the lows

Always celebrate the victories, big or small. Employee recognition is an easy way to keep your employees motivated and empowered. Positive reinforcement trumps negative reinforcement any day, but don’t be afraid to address challenges and concerns.

Part of being a good manager and an effective coach includes challenging your employees to step out of their comfort zones and guiding them to find the best solutions. These moments, while sometimes uncomfortable, can lead to transformative growth for both you and your direct reports.

4. Action items

Outline clear action items that your employee can identify as a priority with clear expectations and timelines. This can be a great time for the employee to present follow-up questions and clear up ambiguities, if any.

5. Follow up

1-on-1s work best when they are recurring and consistent. Keep this commitment and you will create a cadence of valuable performance feedback. Over time, the coaching you provide and trust you build during these meetings can allow employees to adapt a true growth mindset. Maintaining a growth mindset can help them shake bad habits and develop new skills through experimenting and learning.

Like most of us, your day-to-day probably consists of a lot of communication via email, text or phone calls, but it’s the time during your 1-on-1 meetings that hold an irreplaceable potency. They have 3 basic purposes; build the relationship, answer the most pressing challenges, and re-align the employee with team or company goals.

More 15Five tools coming soon!

We have two new tools in our pipeline to help you and your employees have the best 1-on-1s possible.

Talking point templates: These templates will allow anyone using the 1-on-1 feature to save recurring talking points so they can be applied to future meetings.

1-on-1s beyond your manager: Soon, you’ll be able to have 1-on-1s with anyone in your organization. This feature will allow you to skip levels or jump cross-functionally for scheduled time within 15five.

Maru Carrion is Product Designer at 15Five, continuous performance management software that includes weekly check-ins, OKR tracking, peer recognition, 1-on-1s, and 360 reviews. When Maru isn’t helping to create a delightful user experience for our customers, she might be found enjoying SF cuisine or walking her dog, Dali.

Paco Flores 15Five

Paco Flores is an Enterprise Customer Success Manager at 15Five. Paco has worked in customer success for 5 years, and had a prior retail career for 12 years.

Image Credit: Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash