Chapter 39. Help Yourself to Better One-on-Ones

Vrashabh Irde

One-on-one meetings are a critical part of running healthy engineering teams. For engineering managers, they’re the most important meetings of the week—uncancellable time slots dedicated to listening to engineers on their teams. Although there is a lot of literature on the internet about how to run good one-on-ones for managers, there seems to be little emphasis on the fact that one-on-one meetings are actually engineer driven. The time set aside every week is your opportunity as an engineer to broach critical topics for conversation. Here are some tips on how you as an engineer can make these conversations valuable, help your manager better recognize their value, and help yourself to perform better.

Bring an Agenda

I cannot stress this enough. As with any meeting, it’s important to come to a one-on-one with a preplanned agenda. A good way to do this is to maintain a shared Google Docs file with your manager and prepopulate it with the agenda that you want to address in the next meeting. As you go through your week, add to this file the things that you want to discuss so you don’t need to scour for topics at the last minute. If it’s still empty before your next one-on-one, maybe it’s a great opportunity to talk about career progression, growth, and giving feedback to your manager. Which brings us to…

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