Employee Engagement, Employee Surveys, Human Resources

6 reasons why one-on-one meetings aren’t a good feedback method

Lydia Watson

Do you ever log into your account on Monday morning, look at your calendar, and just… sigh? For a lot of us, back-to-back meetings are a regular occurrence, making it impossible to get any ‘deep work’ done – and if you’re part of a small, thriving business then you’re likely busier than most. 

For HR professionals, that’s a problem. As your job is focused on people, endless one-on-one interactions seem inevitable. But are they the most efficient way to gather feedback?

The (caveated) case for one-to-one meetings

First things first, employees need 121s. If they have them regularly, they’re 3x more likely to be engaged. These sessions also help to boost productivity and profits, and reduce turnover – as 80% of leavers cited the lack of 121s as their main reason for quitting.

But this refers to having a one-on-one meeting with managers. Line managers perform better themselves if they regularly hold 121s with their team, and it strengthens the relationship between team lead and team member – crucial, as having a ‘bad boss’ is a frequently cited reason for leaving.

When you’re thinking about collecting employee feedback, then, running 121s with the whole of the organisation is not your best bet, for a range of reasons:

The problem with using 121s for employee feedback (and why surveys are a better option): 

1. They’re too time-consuming

Even for small businesses, sitting down with everyone individually will take too long – especially if you’re following 121 best practices by doing them weekly. And that’s just for the meetings themselves. What about collating the feedback, analysing it, identifying common problems? It’s just not time efficient.  

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, it takes just 15 minutes to send a survey to the entire team – and you get automatically analysed results as soon as it closes. That’s a lot of time and effort saved!

2. People aren’t always honest

As a HR professional, it’s hard to grow a close personal relationship with everyone – and there can be a culture of mistrust towards people in this role. That means you’re unlikely to get open, honest feedback from a face-to-face chat, rendering the exercise pointless. 

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, surveys are always confidential – with steps taken to prevent responses being pinned to particular individuals. That gives your employees a safe space to speak up, be honest, and air any issues.

3. Your unconscious bias

We all have unconscious biases, however hard we try to avoid them. If you’re running 121s with different team members, it can be hard to put your preconceived notions about them aside – from associations with their identity group, to previous incidents or conversations with them.

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, you can spot the biggest people problems across the board – meaning you know where to focus regardless of the person who raised it.

4. Difficult to quantify feedback

For HR to realise it’s strategic function – and that’s something we completely believe in – you need to take a data-led approach. Although you could collate the individual feedback you get from one-on-one meetings, it’s going to take a lot of time and analytical know-how to get it right.

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, you get quantitative data on key topics backed by powerful language analysis to fill in the details. It’s automatic, fast, and far more likely to give you reliable information.

5. Easy to forget something

Do you always remember every detail of the conversations you have? It’s unlikely. And you could be the best note-taker in the world, but it’s going to be hard to have a proper conversation while you’re scribbling away. That means relying on individual 121s for feedback runs the risk of things being forgotten or misconstrued. 

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, the survey results are clearly displayed – so there’s no confusion, or anything missing. You can even share the results with other team members for full transparency.

6. No way to identify patterns

Why are you gathering feedback in the first place? Your goal should be to identify the main priorities in your organisation, from whether there’s an issue with leadership or people feel uncomfortable about office working. If you don’t take a data-led feedback approach, it’s almost impossible to spot patterns over time, in certain teams, or in specific identity groups.

How surveys solve this problem:

With Qlearsite Foundation, you can look back at past results to identify areas of progress. Our automated signposting also helps you spot the biggest stories in the data, identifying key patterns for you. 

Use surveys to help your managers know how to run a good one-on-one meeting

Your approach to employee listening can (and probably should) be multifaceted. But the first step needs to be sending a survey, for all the reasons we’ve explained above. So what comes after that?

When you’ve got the results, you can quickly see where to focus next. You can also see what individual teams are talking about, and how they’re feeling – and that’s where your line managers come in. 

Maybe you give them a one-on-one meeting template, or explain the questions to ask in a 121 meeting – either way, you can share their team’s results to help narrow their focus, and make them use their time effectively. For example: sales are all struggling with their wellbeing? Their manager can focus on welfare-based questions, and stress levels. 

Qlearsite Foundation: get a free 21-day trial

If you’re in a people-focused role in a small business, we’d bet anything that you’re short on time. But if there’s anything that’s going to fall by the wayside, it shouldn’t be employee feedback. After all, listening is the key to lower turnover, higher productivity, and more engaged teams.

That’s why we created Qlearsite Foundation, to give you faster, simpler, cheaper employee surveys. Try it today:

  • 15-minute survey setup
  • 20+ surveys on key topics
  • Instant insights on close
  • Automated analysis & tips
  • Affordable ongoing price
  • 21-day free trial 

Faster, simpler surveys – free for 21 days

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