Having One-on-One Conversations

September 9, 2020 by Rose Cook

I spent the past week on vacation in Ocean City, NJ relaxing with my family. It’s always nice to get away and I appreciated the chance to spend time with my kids. This year, because of social distancing, we spent more time cooking or getting takeout and eating in, playing games, and just being together. It was awesome! 

I really enjoyed taking walks on the beach and getting some one-on-one time with each of my sons. It’s much harder to keep up with them now that they’re young adults with careers and lives of their own. My husband and I recognize the importance of spending time with them individually, talking about whatever they want to talk about. There’s nothing I like more than knowing what’s going on in their lives and talking about the things that are important to them. I also know that if there is something they want to talk about, they’re more likely to be forthcoming in a one-on-one with either me or their dad.

In project management for life sciences, it’s also more important than ever to stay connected when you are physically apart. Group or team meetings are great and, of course, necessary to keep everyone on the same page. However, making time for one-on-one conversations should also be part of your project plan to keep things running smoothly! They may seem inefficient, especially if your team is large, but they are powerful and effective.

A friend of mine was just saying that since working from home, she has only seen her boss once since March. When they were all at the office there were regular one-on-one conversations, some scheduled and some simple, “Do you have a minute to talk about something?” discussions. 

To his credit, not only are there now weekly video calls with the whole group, but there are also regularly scheduled one-on-one calls with each team member. She appreciates that he genuinely wants to hear from them and wants to know what’s going on. Much like being a good parent entails knowing what is going on in my kids’ lives, being a good project manager entails knowing what’s going on with my team – both professionally and often even personally.

In addition to helping build relationships with the members of your team, one-on-ones give you the opportunity to discuss more specific issues that may never come up in group meetings. Team members may feel more comfortable relating ideas or difficulties in a one-on-one setting as opposed to addressing them to the whole group. 

Recently another colleague related a perfect example of the benefits of one-on-one conversations. On her one-on-one check-in call, she learned that a team member was a bit frustrated he couldn’t move forward faster with one of his tasks. He admitted that he was stuck because another team member was behind, causing him to be delayed as well. My colleague knew that he didn’t want to throw his coworker “under the bus,” but taking the time to talk to him privately opened the opportunity to speak freely and they were able to address the issue and formulate a plan. 

It’s really up to you how often you choose to have one-on-ones with your team. Obviously, the bigger your team, the more time it takes. There may be certain people whose roles require more interaction than others and even certain team members you know need more or less depending on their project management expertise. 

Think about what you want to take away from these meetings and what you want your team members to take away. This is your chance to really engage and build deeper relationships, which is one more way to ensure a successful project conclusion.

The FlexPro Group is a project management consulting firm, specializing in the life sciences industry since 2008. FlexPro combines industry-certified experts with proven project management processes and subject matter expertise to deliver results on time and on budget. Our focus areas include product development and commercialization, supply chain optimization, integration management, and early-stage acceleration.

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