I don’t think anyone would debate that having one-on-ones (1:1) is one of the more important things you can do as a manager. But one thing that seems to be debated is the length of said 1:1. Personally, I choose to schedule my 1:1s for an hour with all of my directs. Why do I do this when it seems to be that the default is 30 minutes?
One of the main reasons is because I view 1:1s is time that I make sure that my directs have my attention. Because of the power dynamic, I can always get my directs attention and time but the inverse is not always true. I am not saying that I make myself hard to reach but I do acknowledge the power dynamic that exists between a manager and their directs where sometimes people don’t want to “bother” the other side. Ok, that explains a viewpoint on a 1:1 but why such a long time?
Have you ever had a 1:1 and you finally start to get in the flow with your manager and then boom it is time to stop or you want to bring up something sensitive but it takes you 25 minutes to get the nerve up? Yea, me too. This is the primary reason I schedule my 1:1s for an hour. When these unexpected things come up or my direct has something important to talk about or we are just having a good conversation I have the space to further that relationship. Quite often I am on the other side with my managers who only schedule a 30 minute 1:1 and we almost always run out of time.
What happens if you don’t need the whole hour most of the time? Good. It means you know have some uninterrupted time to get something done or handle another problem that has cropped up. Or what happens if you have twenty directs having an hour-long 1:1 for each kills half the week? Well, there are bigger problems if you have 20 direct reports :).
Next time you schedule your default 30-minute 1:1 why not give the space for an hour. It is worth a shot to see if you further connect with your directs or new insights come out of it.