How to structure a valuable Catch Up meeting

Have you ever walked out of a 121 catch up meeting and thought ‘that was a waste of time, why did we bother?’

This sounds harsh, who doesn’t want to catch up?

But I remember feeling this way after many catch ups with a particular boss. The problem was I didn’t feel heard, he would take over and talk, often about his pet project of the moment and before we knew it, the time slipped away and we were both onto our next meetings.

We can all get carried away with the latest shiny object, but as leaders we are here to support and serve our team, and that starts with listening. Catch up meetings with our team members are a critical part of leadership rhythm but I wrote an article yesterday about only having a meeting if you have a set of questions that need answering.

This rule applies to catch ups as well and I would argue that they are a critical entry in your calendar, but preparing for them is important to making them meaningful and having a structure can be helpful for this prep.

So here's a question framework that might help when you are thinking about how to get the most out of your 121 catch ups

  1. Start with ‘how are you?’ it's so often said, but rarely meant. Mean it and really listen.
  2. For a goal update, try framing it with 2 different questions - ‘where are you seeing progress?’ and ‘where are you struggling?’
  3. Appreciate and feedback, ask yourself before the meeting - ‘what feedback do I want to share?’
  4. Give them an opportunity to talk about anything that is important to them.  Ask ‘what else is on your mind?’ then don't interrupt or divert.
  5. Try asking ‘what do you need from me?’ You’re not there to take on their world but you are there to provide support and advice.

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