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Relationship development x one-on-ones: when to meet with teammates you don't work with

Context

Many have recurring one-on-ones with their managers or project leads. Many have one-on-ones with people they work with regularly as they need regular time with people they need to work with OR they need to keep informed along the way on overlapping workstreams.

Question

How do you decide when to have recurring one-on-ones with colleagues who don't directly work with you? And if you do this practice, how do you decide on the agenda and who do you meet with?

 

*Legitimately asking on behalf of another coworker (who regularly reads these discussions)

8 comments

Andy Gladstone Community Leader Feb 01, 2022

While I have not used this personally, I have a number of close friends and contacts that swear by it. Donut for Slack seems to be an effective way to get co-workers that may not overlap in the same Venn Diagram to meet, exchange ideas, and start to understand each other's roles and responsibilities. 

This does not address the second part of your question - which is how to set an agenda - since there is no specific agenda's for these meetups.

I will caution anyone that is trying to set up 1:1 meetings with indirect reports or peers to always clear the request with the other party's supervisor first. Putting someone in an uncomfortable position to accept a meeting request when their manager/supervisor may not appreciate the 'time suck' that the meeting may take. In this case I would say better to ask permission than forgiveness - as it may undermine the point of the meeting in the first place.

Like # people like this

I've tried the "donut" app before. To your point, @Andy Gladstone, the teams who used it early on all seemed to enjoy it and say it was nice way to change up their usual schedule of teammates to chat with. But...I didn't really like it hahaha. I prefer to have intention behind every meeting and incorporate the fun bonding into the meetings I already have. 

Oh, and good point to set up meetings where both parties are both invested. 

I schedule this type of meeting as a retrospective and usually plan them quarterly with colleagues that I share dependencies with but don't meet with daily. I've had great results in getting a pulse on our relationship as well as identifying ways we can improve our support of each other.

Like # people like this

Oh that's interesting, @Carolyn Carney. To set up meetings based on opportunities/gaps identified in retros.

Out of curiosity, who best identifies those areas of improvement from relationships? Do you tend to hear it directly as feedback in the retro or is it a result of analysis from the data gathered from the retro?

@Christine P_ Dela Rosa Its a combination of both. One of my "retro partners" just advised me that our meetings have helped streamline our two teams' processes and that they have been able to leverage our improvements with other teams in the organization. When we started this meeting over a year ago, there were very few what-we-did-well statements. In my last meeting, the what-we-did-well outnumbered our what-should-we-have-done-better 10-1. Very satisfying!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

I love that! Unrelated to this discussion thread, I think looking at the ratio of what-we-did-well comments to what-can-we-do-better statements is a part of retros I never considered. Especially when zooming out at the change of those ratios over time! I might just have to add that to my retro analyses ;) 

Like Carolyn Carney likes this

I have regular 1:1s only with those colleagues with whom I work directly in a team + a couple who used to be my direct colleagues, moved to a team, but still wanted to keep catching up with me.

 

For everybody else I schedule them on need-to-talk basis. If there is nothing to talk about, what's the point of having regular conversations? And if you do have something to talk about ,you are most likely working closely together and hence it's in a way your direct colleague.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Got it. I resonate with that.

Sometimes folks "don't know what they don't know" and wonder if setting up recurring meetings is a way to prevent gaps in knowledge transfer. But I suppose the real issue then is identifying why and where those gaps are instead of simply overcorrecting and meeting with people you may not need to meet with.

Like Anita Kalmane likes this

Hi @Christine P_ Dela Rosa 

      Rather than decide, I am asking every 15 days how they feel and I am inviting them to some other coffee in a team channel that I have called "coffee shop" I have tried to have a relaxed and productive chat

     It is important to listen to people beyond the workplace, we must always bear in mind that as humans we are, our own staff surpasses us

Cheers

Like # people like this

Ooooh, it sounds like concentrating the "how's it going" type of conversation into one space instead of just at the start of a meeting for example. I never thought about how that might lead to productive work-related chats. That's a direction I don't normally think of but it's interesting!

Do your coffee shop chitchats ever lead back to workplace topics?

Like Vero Rivas likes this

Yes, but try to keep the focus on the personal issue, on making sure that person feels comfortable, safe and happy with their work, then if they want to talk specifically about work, go ahead, why not?


The purpose of that coffee is for that person to be well and talk about what he needs, give him the power that he can also direct the conversation

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

@Stacy Erenberg , do you do it with all the non-direct colleagues? I work every day with around 50+ people and less often with even more. Can't imagine having time to do this.

Like Vero Rivas likes this

I do it with my direct colleagues and then I always try to find time for the one who asks me for a coffee, when a person "orders a coffee" it is a clear sign that "something" needs

Oh interesting, so this is like 4Ls retro (rooted in feeling, but eventually connecting back to work) but on an individual level.

We have health monitors for teams but nothing on an individual level and nothing that ad hoc. Thank you for sharing!

John Funk Community Leader Feb 02, 2022

I have regular 1-1's with my boss and a handful of people I work closely with. But not with those that I don't work closely with. Not sure of the point of that actually as we have a limited number of work hours a week and too many 1-1's consume a lot of time. 

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Sounds like you're not alone in this perspective. Roger that.

Like John Funk likes this
Fun Man Andy Community Leader Feb 02, 2022

I love having regular 1on1s with people I don't know....! Back at PTC, with a corporation of 7k peeps, I would just randomly reach out to people and ask if they were up for a Mystery Coffee... just a 15min chat to get to know each other better.

Most successful!

I suppose it is important that a company's culture helps stimulate such activities, no one ever said no in 50+ sessions over 2 years

How to choose them? Pick a department/division I know nothing about and look up people in the address book.

Setting agenda? Ice breakers topics: What do you do hear? How long have you been at the company? What are your hobbies? Choose a random topic the other person wants to bring to the table.

Like # people like this
Fun Man Andy Community Leader Feb 02, 2022

ps: At least 5 chats started with "Oh you're THAT Andy... the Atlassian nerd!"
 #INFAMY!

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Mystery coffee! I like that title. And wow, your track record is impressive! I guess a little reframing is a great way to pique interest. 

Do you ever re-meet with folks? Because it sounds like these are intro-type meets. I wonder if any of them led to longer relationships.

Like Fun Man Andy likes this
Fun Man Andy Community Leader Feb 02, 2022

Absolutely...! 3 turned into regular 'water cooler' style virtual catchups: whenever we wanted, we'd just reach out

1 even turned into an internal collaboration lasting months, with Global CoE team helping out the Central European division with their AR challenges! 🤩 (The Tech VP I initially met with had no idea what we did, but once I explained it he was like "All of Germany needs this....!"

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

Wowza! Did not expect that kind of a response. This is one of those case studies to the question "is your company as informed about its own work as it should be?"

Like Fun Man Andy likes this
Fun Man Andy Community Leader Feb 03, 2022

Yes, it totally is...! Despite Slack... Yammer... Newsfeeds... etc. There's just too much going on for any one person to know all.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this
Darryl Lee Atlassian Team Mar 11, 2022

Thanks for raising this, I am still learning about the best cadence to catch up with ppl regularly.

At the moment, we are using the Donut app on Slack for randomly meetup.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

For the rare times I'm in the office recently, I like to go for a coffee together. It's social and fulfils the caffeine need.

Like Christine P_ Dela Rosa likes this

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