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Drive Donor Engagement by Mastering Employee 1x1s at Your Org

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In nonprofit organizations, communication is key to ensuring your fundraising goals are met, and that your events go off without a hitch. 

As an Executive Director, you have to make sure everyone is on the same page, that roadblocks or challenges are identified as soon as possible, and that last-minute surprises are kept to a minimum. 

While you may hold regular staff meetings to collect status updates and keep everyone on the same page, don’t underestimate the power of one-on-one team member meetings to keep your initiatives and organization running smoothly.

What Are the Benefits of Employee 1x1s?

The benefits of having meaningful one-on-one meetings include: 

  • Better strategic alignment - making sure everyone is pulling in the same direction at the same time
  • A stronger relationship between employees and their respective managers
  • Greater employee engagement and loyalty, which leads to reduced burnout and turnover
  • A chance to give tough, yet meaningful and personal feedback for professional growth and development
  • A better understanding of how your employees are motivated, which can lead to greater productivity
  • Better two-way communication, which can prevent a small fire from turning into a large blaze

1x1s: Getting the Process Right

What’s the best way to move forward with one-on-one meetings? At your next staff meeting, let your direct reports know that you’re going to start scheduling one-on-one time to talk about their projects, performance, and their professional growth and development. Employees may be wary at first, but by following the tried and true tips below, you’ll start seeing benefits in no time:

  • Set a regular cadence and schedule, and stick to it. By scheduling regular 1x1 meetings in advance, it allows employees to come prepared with talking points or issues for discussion. If something comes up, reschedule, but don’t cancel.
  • Get the logistics right. Meet somewhere private and set aside 45 minutes to an hour for your check-in. This gives you time to dig into issues or topics out of earshot from others. And, it's always better to end early as opposed to running over on time.
  • Make it about them. Make it clear to your direct report that their 1x1 meeting is for them to talk about what’s on their mind. Encourage them to discuss issues or roadblocks that may be preventing them from doing their best work. Provide coaching and feedback to help them work through it. 
  • Ask good questions. Asking good, open-ended questions is the best way to get your direct report to open up. Not sure what to ask?  Check out this list of questions to get you started. 
  • Make it more than a status update. While project updates will likely be a part of the conversation, don’t let that be the whole focus. Remember, these 1x1’s are about your direct reports. Be sure to focus on their career development, get their feedback, and talk about any issues that may be keeping them up at night.
  • Follow through. Tackle any action items or issues that came up during your previous 1x1. By following through, it instills confidence in your direct reports that you have their best interests at heart. If you can’t follow through on something, be sure to share a reasonable explanation.

Remember, every organization is a bit different, so be sure to tailor these recommendations to suit your team and culture. In the end, having regular 1x1 check-ins can lead to greater communication, and can help your organization run smoother. 

That translates to more dollars raised, greater engagement to the mission, and happier employees. If you’re still a bit stuck on getting started, check out this helpful article by the Harvard Business Review on how to get feedback when you’re the boss.

Second post in series - read: Employee Engagement & Donor Engagement



Melissa White has 8+ years of HR experience, with a focus on recruiting and talent acquisition. She has a Masters in Human Resources and her PHR (Professional in Human Resources) certification.

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