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A former Facebook director says managers need to kill the weekly 1:1 meeting. Here's why.

Tim Paradis   

A former Facebook director says managers need to kill the weekly 1:1 meeting. Here's why.
  • Former Facebook director Aditya Agarwal argues weekly 1:1 meetings often do more harm than good.
  • Weekly check-ins, he says, lead to nitpicking and inhibit holistic feedback.

A former Facebook director thinks the weekly 1:1 meeting with your manager needs a reboot.

In a post on X, Aditya Agarwal wrote that after more than a decade of running these meetings with his direct reports, he determined the weekly check-ins did more harm than good.

"They condition people to do spot checks on happiness and constantly be critical about things that aren't ideal. In practice, 1:1s descend into nitpicking sessions," he wrote as part of a thread.

Agarwal was once the chief technology officer at Dropbox and one of Facebook's early engineers. He's now a partner at South Park Commons, a Silicon Valley group that aims to build community among founders, entrepreneurs, and technologists.

Agarwal suggested bosses give feedback every three to six months rather than weekly. This would, he said, push managers to uncover patterns and offer "holistic" guidance instead of spot checks each week.

"Frankly, I hated it and found it useless. But it's what "good" managers did," Agarwal wrote of the weekly appointments.

The critique of the 1:1 isn't the first. But before you go canceling yours — if you can get away with that — there are ways to improve what is likely the most important meeting on your calendar.

Steven G. Rogelberg, an organizational psychologist and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, studies 1:1s. He previously told Business Insider that one of the biggest no-nos in these meetings is when the boss dominates the conversation or runs through a to-do list —a practice Agarwal called "archaic."

Rogelberg said the meeting was designed to address a worker's tactical and personal needs. Going deep on personal requirements means saying things like, "Tell me more," so the boss can better understand where a worker might need help. Too often, he said, bosses gloss over the personal stuff because wading through it can be extra work.

To make 1:1s better, Rogelberg suggests bosses and their direct reports meet every two weeks for perhaps 25 to 50 minutes. He said meeting more often can make workers feel micromanaged.

Agarwal made a similar point in his post: "Excessive 1:1s are a distraction," he wrote. Instead, Agarwal suggested that bosses should save themselves and their direct reports' time to focus on getting work done and making the company successful.

On the other hand, Rogelberg told BI, that meeting too infrequently can make people feel as though their boss doesn't care.

But, Agarwal suggested that rather than holding frequent meetings, mangers be available so workers can go to them with questions. He added that managers can have a deeper conversation about a worker's career development once a quarter or so over a meal.

"This is a more effective cadence," Agarwal wrote.

Rogelberg, the author of "Glad We Met: The Art and Science of 1:1 Meetings," suggests managers ask about hurdles workers might be facing, how the manager can better help, and what's working and what's not. He said it's possible to reserve periodic 1:1s to focus on longer-term issues so they don't get overlooked.

Agarwal noted that if a worker is having a hard time, it's wise to have more regular check-ins.

"But for most folks, quarterly big picture conversations and real-time availability are sufficient," he wrote.

Agarwal said he wanted the people under him to be resilient.

"Not every week or month will be happy and pleasant. I want them to deal with it without constantly feeling bad. Weekly 1:1s undermine this," he wrote.

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