A Better Way to Run One-to-One Meetings in Slack and Microsoft Teams in 2021
Are you hosting meetings in Slack or Microsoft Teams? Maybe you’re hosting meetings in Slack and Microsoft Teams.
Regardless of your app of choice, I bet this scenario sounds familiar…
- You and your direct report communicate back and forth all week, bouncing between Slack and Microsoft Teams.
- You discuss ongoing projects, mention any roadblocks, maybe send a funny gif or two.
- Days go by, and it’s time for your one-to-one meeting, and there’s no agenda set.
- Rather, your agenda items are spread out between hundreds of messages across multiple communication tools.
- During the meeting, you spend about 15 minutes going through your messages to understand what it is you’d both like to talk about.
- The WiFi cuts out and it takes you 5 more minutes to get back on the call.
You just wasted 20 minutes of your 30 minute one-to-one.
The role of agendas in Slack and Microsoft Teams
The heart of every successful one-to-one meeting is the agenda. It allows both individuals to come prepared, and spend time making decisions as opposed to sharing context.
For remote managers, making sure that every meeting is an effective use of everyone’s time is extremely important because you don’t have the luxury of sitting in front of your employee for 8 hours a day.
Remote workers also have to factor in things like technical difficulties, coordinating different time zones and communicating through multiple tools.
If you’re running your one-to-ones in Slack or Microsoft Teams, there’s no reason that they can’t be as effective as an in-person meeting.
Why remote managers need a shared agenda for one-to-one meetings
Juggling day-to-day responsibilities while managing a team is already hard enough.
Don’t make things harder for yourself by wasting time in unproductive meetings (and as a result, filling up your calendar with even more meetings to make up for it).
Here are 4 ways a shared agenda will improve your one-to-ones:
Direct reports contribute more to the conversation
A shared agenda is just that… shared.
When you and your direct reports have ownership of the meeting, one-to-ones move away from being a one-sided conversation to a two-way dialogue.
On top of that, a shared agenda allows you and your direct reports to better prepare for the meeting.
If you want to discuss a certain project or topic, add it to the agenda prior to the meeting to give your direct reports ample time to reflect and come with a prepared answer (without feeling like they’ve been put on the spot).
Less time is wasted during one-to-ones
You don’t want to waste your direct report’s time and they certainly don’t want to waste yours.
Spending half of your meeting scrolling through the different communication tools and docs your team is using is not the best use of anyone’s time.
Having one place where all of your talking points live will help both of you stay on task and remove distractions.
Cover the topics you actually need to cover
As a remote manager, it’s likely that you and your team have jam-packed one-to-one meetings.
In most cases, this is because remote workers don’t have the same opportunities to casually discuss small things in the office with their managers.
“In a remote team, where you can’t just chat waiting while the coffee machine has blue-screened and is rebooting, it’s really important to maintain these relationship channels on a regular basis.”
-Kara McNair, Engineering Manager at Buffer on how she runs one-to-one meetings
By preparing an agenda leading up to your one-to-one, you’ll be able to look at everything both you and your direct report would like to discuss and prioritize accordingly.
Easily refer back to conversations (when you record them!)
It’s crucial that you have a clear record of what’s been talked about in your one-to-ones.
Documenting key decisions and action items will help you build off past conversations instead of having the same conversation every week.
It also makes your life so much easier when it comes to things like quarterly and yearly reviews.
Whether this lives in your communication tool, or if you use an agenda app, you’ll want to keep these notes in a shared place so that you and your direct report can refer back to them when needed.
All in all, a shared agenda for your one-to-one meeting will allow you and your direct report to show up ready for every meeting.
You’ll waste less time, have more productive conversations and get organized.
Using shared agendas in Slack and Microsoft Teams
Whether your team communicates in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or both, it’s important that you make an effort to have a shared agenda.
Let’s walk through some ways you can use Slack and Teams to incorporate a shared agenda into your one-to-one meetings (plus some time-saving integrations you can use!)
Shared agendas for meetings in Slack
So, how do you create shared agendas in Slack?
For starters, you can go the bare bones route and message a list of agenda items to your direct report before your meeting.
This can be in your conversation with your direct report or privately to yourself.
However, some things to keep in mind if this is the route you choose:
- You give off the impression that you own the meeting.
- Let your direct reports know that this is a shared agenda and that they should be contributing as well.
- After all, it’s their time with you.
- When it comes time for meetings like quarterly and yearly reviews, it’s going to be difficult to aggregate all of this data.
- Expect to be spending a lot of time scrolling through your messages to gather past conversation topics (and that’s only if you document what is being discussed during the meeting.
Shared agendas for meetings in Microsoft Teams
Creating a shared agenda in Microsoft Teams is a similar experience to using Slack.
You can take the same approach mentioned earlier – by privately messaging your employees and jotting down a quick list of items you want to cover in your agenda, which also comes with the same considerations as Slack (i.e. meeting ownership).
Once you know exactly what you want to talk about, use Microsoft Teams’ native integration with Outlook to schedule your conference by clicking on the meetings icon.
One of the best ways to get the most out of meetings in Teams is to learn how to use shortcuts in your command bar.
It’ll save you some serious time when it comes to finding the information you want to address in your meeting.
For instance, type:
- /files to pull up the recent documents you’ve shared with your team to prepare for the meeting
- /call followed by the first few letters of an employee’s name to quickly add new people to the meeting if you want to transform your one-to-one into a conference
- /saved to pull up saved messages that are relevant to the meeting
Need to come back and review your meeting later?
With Microsoft Teams, you can record your meeting audio, video, and screen sharing activities, and store them in the cloud on Stream.
The record feature means that you can easily access past meetings to refer back to past conversations However, it also means that you’ve got a great resource you can use to follow up on the meeting by:
- Creating department or company announcements based on your one-to-one discussion
- Following up on employee performance with stand-up sessions
Just click on the “…” button on your meeting screen and hit record to save your content.
Time-saving integrations for Slack and Teams
There are several tools and apps available for Slack users that will help you have better, more productive meetings.
Here are a few I recommend using…
Integrations for Slack
If you use Slack but your direct report prefers Microsoft Teams, there’s an easy option to manage your communications.
Instead of logging into Teams each time you need to discuss your upcoming meeting, stay in Slack and chat with all your direct reports across platforms (see how Mio works).
This will also make it easier to sift through conversations when you need to.
SoapBox is a one-to-one and team meeting agenda tool, which enables you to build your meeting agenda without ever leaving Slack.
It also provides users with suggested agenda items to prompt better conversations between managers and their direct reports.
SoapBox keeps all of your meeting notes in one place while making post-meeting follow-up easy (which is especially great for remote teams!)
Key benefits of using SoapBox in Slack include:
- SlackBot: Get daily digests on upcoming meetings, next steps that need completing and more.
- The SlackBot also allows you to create meetings, add items to the agenda and more without ever leaving the app.
- Easily turn conversations in Slack channels into talking points for your next meeting by clicking the “…” button next to the message and select the option to “add to meeting”.
You can also make sure that you both keep track of your upcoming meetings by syncing Slack with your Outlook Calendar app, or Google Calendar.
This will give your direct report the chance to access meeting invitations and reminders within their Slack channel.
During the meeting, Slack will signal to the rest of your team that you’re currently in a meeting.
This helps avoid potential distractions from messages flooding into your chat, keeping you more attentive to the meeting at hand.
Integrations for Teams
Slack isn’t the only enterprise messaging tool with integrations to offer.
There are also apps to add to your Microsoft Teams experience that will ramp up your collaboration sessions.
Similar to Slack, you can plan and run meetings directly in Microsoft Teams.
Easily add agenda items when they pop up in conversation.
All you need to do is switch to the SoapBox tab within Teams and add items to your agenda.
SoapBox will also prompt your direct reports to add items to the agenda between meetings, enabling them to contribute and take ownership of your one-to-one!
SoapBox for Microsoft teams allows you to:
- Run your meeting entirely in Microsoft Teams. From adding agenda items to revisiting past meetings, you can do it all without leaving the app.
- Easily turn conversations into talking points for your next meeting.
The MindMeister app will allow you to capture and share ideas with your team in a visual environment.
This makes it easier to brainstorm meeting touchpoints and visualize plans for upcoming projects when you’re in your one-to-one.
There are even add-in options for Microsoft Teams users who want to bring conversations from their email inbox into their conversation.
Host the ultimate remote one-to-one for Slack and Microsoft Teams Users
Running productive one-to-one meetings isn’t as simple as it seems.
Sure, Slack, Teams and other messaging tools ensure that you can list out the key items in your agenda in a channel or workspace before you start your chat.
They even give you the option to choose between voice, text, or video call for your conversation, and come with a host of integrations to make managing your meeting simpler.
But we have a problem…
Earlier this year, we learned that 63% of companies using Microsoft apps say they also use Slack in parallel.
So, what does that mean for your meetings?
Well, if your teams are using multiple chat tools, that also means that:
- Your documents and crucial content are split over various apps
- Employees on one platform might miss agenda details posted to the other platform
- When your team members are messaging about pre-meeting items, workplace silos are rife and information will only be shared with certain users
- You could turn up to a meeting and the agenda has changed
For one-to-one meetings to be truly successful, you need a plan, an agenda, and a way to keep you and your employees synced across all channels.
With the steps above and a combination of SoapBox and Mio, you’ll be able to eliminate the gaps in your one-to-one meetings once and for all.
This is a guest post by Hiba Amin. Hiba is the Content Marketing Manager at SoapBox. SoapBox is a one-on-one and team meeting agenda tool that’s built for managers.