Referred to by a variety of names, what I will call “one- on-one meetings” allow lawyers to spend time with those they manage on a set calendar basis. In the midst of the Covid19 pandemic, for remote, stressed, and fragmented law departments, one-on-ones are a powerful tool for alleviating some of those burdens. One-on-ones help make sure that everyone has an opportunity to speak directly, periodically, and for an adequate time with the person to whom they report. The direct report and his or her manager has dedicated time to discuss what is going on with work as well as other issues.
Typically, one-on-ones take place about every two or three weeks and last at least 30 minutes. This commitment of time can be a burden for those who have quite a few people reporting to them, but it is arguably the best way to keep in touch both professionally and personally. Neither emails nor text messages, and not even telephone calls, can provide the emotional-quotient insights of one-on-one focused time together. During the one-on-one, the manager especially needs to listen intently and perhaps jot down notes afterwards, such as about concerns, difficulties with remote work, or what the report would like to do differently.
One benefit of scheduled one on ones is that, knowing they will have a slot of time, both sides can collect material that they want to bring up during the discussion. A general counsel should not allow the cadence of one-on-one meetings to inhibit other interactions, of course, but on the other hand should key an eye out for any patterns of canceling the meetings too frequently. Finally, both participants should take a few minutes before each session to outline what they would like to talk or ask about.