1 on 1 meetings from the Scrum Master’s perspective

The main reason for the 1 on 1 meetings is to provide a platform for you and your team members to informally communicate with each other and get feedback in a more private settings. As good working relationships usually translate into better individual results from every team member, it is very important to spend time talking about discovered issues. And not everything can be effectively discussed in a group. That makes the 1 on 1 meetings important for everybody involved.

Now, let’s discuss what you should focus on during meetings like these and what you should try to avoid.

Make an agenda

Remember, the goal of a good 1 on 1 is to build a great relationship between you and your team members. It can only happen if both parties do their part and do bring up the things that need to be discussed. To ensure that nothing is forgotten, make sure to write down topics as soon as they are discovered and bring that list as an agenda to the 1 on 1 meeting. And don’t forget to tell all the team members to also bring their own lists.
You might open the conversation with questions like these:

  • How are you?
  • How was your week?
  • What can I help you with?

Focus on what is going well

It may be sometimes challenging to make those 30-minutes positive and productive. Nevertheless you should lead the way and concentrate on the good things during the meeting.

For example, you can ask:

  • What went well since the last 1 on 1?
  • Do you enjoy the things you are working on?
  • What was your best achievement this week?

Prepare with notes

All issues cannot be solved at once. If that happens, not many things are more discouraging for your team members then to hear “I’m sorry. What did we talk about last time?” It’s often an innocent mistake. We all are constantly moving in many different directions and the 1 on 1 meeting is just one of many conversations we had in the last few weeks. It’s hard to remember what was discussed just off the top of your head and you will have to spend a lot of time on refreshing your memory. Therefore, it is very important to take notes and have them readily available at the beginning of your meeting.

Do not cancel

One of the biggest sins preventing us from having productive 1 on 1 meetings is that they tend to be frequently canceled. They may not seem to be as important as other activities. Unfortunately, if you go weeks and months without talking, issues you wanted to discuss with your team members tend to build up and may become very hard to address.

If we cancel, we may lose the many benefits a constant and honest feedback given in a 1 on 1 meeting has both for your team and you. Reminding ourselves about the good things, eliminating unnecessary tension, improving workflow and making everybody feel valued are just a few reasons to find the time on your calendar.

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