Calling All Leaders! When Pen And Paper Makes More Sense

In last week’s article I highlighted the importance of meeting with your employees individually once per week (Mark Horstman’s excellent book “The Effective Manager” provides solid data on why this frequency is optimal). Weekly 1:1s provide a regular platform for questions, updates, and anything employees may need from you.

To make the most of these meetings, here’s why you should put aside the device and use a notebook instead:

1. Ensures focus. Now for all the tech lovers out there let me say that I’m not anti-technology. There is a benefit to capturing your day-to-day notes on your device of choice. That said, put it away when meeting with your direct reports! For one, it signifies you are paying close attention to them. Two, you can’t get distracted by other things (text, email, etc). And three, a break from screen time for more eye contact is a good thing anyway. Think about it – how do you feel when your boss is glued to a device during your 1:1s?

2. Tracks important information. Taking notes signifies to your employee that the meeting is important – that what they say matters. A meeting without note-taking appears too casual, and you’ll likely need to refer back to that discussion at some point in the future. And if you are like me you’ll need record of it – if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it. Don’t leave it to chance!

3. Tip:  keep a separate notebook for 1:1s. When I first began managing a team, I made the error of using one notebook or for everything (1:1s, meetings, projects, ideas, etc). Having one notebook just for 1:1s saves so much time in the long run, as you won’t waste time flipping through endless pages to find information. And you’ll decrease stress since all notes are well organized and easily retrievable.

What do you do to ensure your 1:1 meetings are on point? I’d love to hear about it.  Comment below!



  1. Thanks, Ian. I ask all of my staff to send a quick bullet point summary within 24 hours of our weekly meeting. Of particular note, this includes action items for both us. We start the following week’s meeting with a review. It’s quick, effective and promotes great accountability. It’s also a great tool during the week to remind me of status of various projects / team members.

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