What will I do if he asks me for more money? And if she wants to get a promotion? What if people start quitting because of me?

Those were the questions in the back of my head once I became a first-time manager of others.

Behind those questions,
there were as well my fears and doubts. Doubts about my capabilities as manager of others.

I was wishing so much to become manager of others,
that when the moment arrived, at some point I regretted it.

If I can name one thing that was putting on my nerves,
it was how to manage the first one-to-one as a new manager of others.

If you have just started a role as a first-time manager of others
and you are not sure how to manage your one-to-one connection with your team.
You arrived at the right place.

How to manage your first one-to-one as a new manager

When having a first one-to-one with your people,
you need to understand that this is not time for you. It is time for them. For your people.

This is their time.

Once again,
it is not your time to talk. It is time for you to listen to your team members.

To listen to their requests,
to listen to their help-needed requests,
to listen to anything that you could do in order to make them grow and support their career.

How to conduct the first 1 1

Do you remember your first date with your love?
I am sure you wanted to make a very good first impression.

The same with your employee. The first impression counts.

Take the lead.
Take the lead and schedule the first 1 1 connect yourself.
For how long? Around 30/ 45 minutes.

Be precise.
Include in the invite the agenda of what you would like to cover,
and specify clearly what you expect from your employee.

Example of what to include in the invite as agenda for the first 1:1:

Hello X,

Nice to meet you! 😊 booking time to get to know each other.

See below the topics I would like to cover during our first 1:1:

  • Introduction about yourself
  • Introduction about myself
  • General questions from myself connected to the team: what is working, what is not working, immediate help needed and any feedback

No need to prepare anything from your side!
Just for you to know from my side I will be having one slide about myself, including some funny pictures related to my hobbies!

Talk to you then!  

Introductions both about you as manager and about your employee
I like to clearly state that there is no need to prepare anything from the employee side,
however mentioning as well that I will be having a slide about myself including some pictures regarding my hobbies.

For the questions part, I like to include already on the invite to the meeting the type of questions that I would be asking, especially focusing on what is working and what is not working, and letting know the employee that she/he can count on me if any immediate support is needed.

Let’s go into detail about the questions in the next section.

Questions to ask in the first 1:1 as a new managers of others

The first 1:1 is a great opportunity to get in touch with the role, the team, and the environment you are about to enter.

My recommendation is that if you have for example a team of 6 people, you try to have at least in the first week the 1:1 with the 6 people reporting to you.

It is natural, that when there is a new manager in place, people start to talk with each other.

Make sure there is not a big gap of time between your first and your last 1:1 with your team members.

See below the set of questions that I always ask in my first 1:1

  • Tell me about yourself. Career, how long in the role, future plans…
  • What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face soon)?
  • Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges?
  • What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
  • What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
  • How I can help you with and how would you like to cooperate?
  • If you were me, what would you focus your attention on?

These questions are designed using as reference the framework of Michal D. Watkins in his book “The first 90 days” – you can read more about how to build a solid 90 days action plan here:

What do I try to achieve with such questions?
I try to understand which things are working – so I make sure I do not touch them.
What works, do not touch it!

If things are not working, it is important not to action them asap.

Take one step back

Try to understand more about it. Is it only one person flagging the issue? Or more than one?
If it is only one person, you may need to deep dive directly with that person.
If there is more than one person flagging the issue, note the topic brought to your manager and develop an action plan.

And what are the potential capability gaps in the teams so I can act on them, here I am talking about potential excel gaps, systems gaps, communication … anything!

Which gaps are visible across the team, for example, excel capability,

Once you had the first 1:1 you may wonder, what’s next – keep reading here.

How often should managers have 11 with the team members?

As in many things in life – it depends.

If you have a small size team reporting to you (between 1 and 7 people), my recommendation would be to have the 1 1 connects weekly.

If you have a medium size team (let’s say between 8 and 14 people), my recommendation would be to have the 1 1 connects every two weeks.

If you have a large team (more than 15 people), I would recommend you have the connects once per month.
With such a large team, you may want to consider reshuffling your organization so you can reduce the number of people reporting directly to you, by for example splitting your team into two groups, each group led by two different people and those two reporting directly to you

From my experience,
after having all different sizes of teams, my golden rule is to have a team of the size 5 people +/- 2 people (meaning between 3 and 7 people).

Good luck in your first 1 1 as the new manager of others!

You may find interesting my tips & tricks for first time managers of others , you can read more here.

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