What’s the right framework for one-on-ones?

Edited excerpt from eShares 101 by Henry Ward:

You will do a 1-on-1 walk with your manager every 2–3 weeks, with your manager’s manager every 4–6 weeks, and with me every 4–6 months. Go for a walk for 30-40 minutes. Have fun — this is your time. Talk about what’s on your mind. It doesn’t need to be work related.

We have been doing this since we were three employees. Managers at eShares are required to take a class on how to do 1–on-1s. For managers, the instructions are simple: listen. For you, just talk about whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be work related. It is your opportunity to share what’s on your mind.

Our competitive advantage is the strength of our team. Think of our team as a network of nodes, connected by edges. 1–on-1s are how we strengthen those edges. It is the most important activity you will do here.

Notes:
(1) Note the purpose of Henry’s one-on-ones: “Think of our team as a network of nodes, connected by edges. 1–on-1s are how we strengthen those edges.” As CEO of Seeking Alpha, I used one-on-ones differently: their purpose was to help my direct reports achieve their goals and hit their metrics.
(2) Your goal for one-on-ones will impact the frequency and number of people you do them with. Because I wanted to help my direct reports to achieve their goals, I did one-one-ones with them every week, and didn’t meet regularly with anyone else. Because Henry’s goal is to “strengthen the edges”, his one-on-ones are with far more people, but are less frequent.
(3) See The right way to do one-on-ones.
(4) Re. “Go for a walk for 30-40 minutes” — see Walking meetings.

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