It’s scheduled, it’s regular, and we recommend weekly, and also it’s never missed. Obviously it doesn’t do much good to schedule a meeting with your directs and then miss it periodically. You’ll be sending a message that, “I kind of meant it. Oh no, wait. I didn’t.” We know that things come up, and directs who are on your calendar, who see things that come up, are understanding when you say, “I’m sorry. I have to cancel and reschedule.”

We’ve discovered, when it comes to meetings, the definition of a meeting that’s important is that when there’s a conflict, a logistical conflict, a timing conflict, a member conflict in terms of who’s going to be in the meeting, the difference between an important meeting and an unimportant meeting is the important meeting gets rescheduled and the unimportant meeting gets canceled, perhaps to be rescheduled for a later time, but in the short run it’s canceled.

You know how it sounds. “Hey, listen. I can’t meet yet.” “Well, OK. After you’ve got done whatever you need to get done, get back to me and we’ll reschedule.” Well, that’s not actually rescheduling the meeting. That’s canceling and then later scheduling it again, and when it comes to one on ones, once you’ve been doing it for a while, you’ll discover it becomes fundamental to the way you manage.

You can’t manage without the one on ones. Periodically managers call us and say, “I got out of the habit and I just felt lost, and I immediately started doing it again, and suddenly my anxiety level went down, and the teams started saying, ‘Yeah, things feel normal around here,’ because they feel like we’re communicating.” Trust me, that’s going to happen to you at least once in your career once you start doing one on ones.

With that said, if you miss a one on one, it’s OK. It happens. The key is, when your boss walks in five minutes before your one on one and says, “You’ve got to be in the meeting with my boss in five minutes,” all you have to do is reach out to your direct and say, “I’m sorry, I have to reschedule.” You don’t say, “Canceling one on one.” You simply say, “I have to reschedule,” and either you can posit sometimes to them, “How about tomorrow at 2:00 or tomorrow at 10:00?”

By the way, if you’re rushed for time, you don’t have to check their calendar, if you have access to their calendar. You don’t have to do that. You can just look at your calendar. If you only have a moment, look at your calendar, pick up the times that work for you, and say, “Will those times work?”

When a direct of yours gets an email like, “I’m sorry, I have to reschedule. Here are two times that will work for me,” if those times don’t for them, they can simply write back and say, “Unfortunately, those don’t work. Here are times that work for me and I’ve checked your calendar.” That’s how it happens with important meetings, meetings that get rescheduled rather than getting canceled.

We find that there are some managers who cancel their one on ones and then later reschedule them, but we find there are a lot more who cancel and then forget to reschedule, and then they start getting compliance issues in terms of how many one on ones they actually have. As I said earlier, as I alluded to earlier in one of our studies, you can miss a couple of one on ones and you’re fine. In find, we’ll talk about...

During Rolling out the Trinity later on in this series, we’ll talk about the fact that the standard for passing through phase one, the one on one phase of rolling out the trinity, is, “Have you been doing one on ones? Are they scheduled? Are they weekly? Are they with all your directs? Are they 30 minutes long? Are they on your calendar? Have you been doing them for four months, and have you achieved 85 percent of the ones you scheduled?”

Clearly, the standard is not 100 percent, because if it was 100 percent, nobody would ever be meeting it. Up until a recent test I did with me and my directs, I had only missed two one on ones in close to 20 years, and obviously it’s easy for me to say because I’m the one that invented this form of one on ones, but nevertheless, what we find is if you schedule them, it’s far better. You’re going to have conflict, and directs understand as long as you’re willing to reschedule rather than cancel.

Another neat trick we’ve learned from a lot of managers they’ve shared learnings from the field, it’ll tell your direct how important that meeting is if you have a meeting on Thursday, and it’s Monday and your boss steps on your meeting, or some other meetings gets rescheduled and you have to go to it, and you feel helpless, reschedule your one on one for earlier in the week rather than for later in the week.

What we find are managers who start rescheduling their one on ones later in the week end up having to cancel a couple of them because they literally run out of time at the end of the week. Many people don’t think about moving a meeting up, but it’s a completely legitimate thing to do, particularly if you’ve got two or three days advanced notice.

Why don't we miss O3's?

Because it sends a poor message about the importance of the meeting.
That's correct.
Because it upsets directs.
It does, but that's not quite it.
Because we'd miss important news.
That's true, but not quite it.

What do we do instead?

Cancel and schedule again later
Nope - that's not the same as rescheduling.
Just miss it. It's only one.
Nope. Never missed, remember?

How can rescheduling send a positive message?

Directs know that important meetings are rescheduled.
They do!
When I apologize, the direct knows I mean it.
We hope so, but that's not it.
I could bring gifts to the next meeting.
That would be nice, but rescheduling rather than canceling is better.