It is no secret that we are at our desks all day long, boxed in by our office space. By many estimates, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. And there are clear advantages to being indoors like electricity, shelter, controlled climate and protection from zombies. Plus, for many of us, our offices are indoors and we have important work to get done, so being inside is how we accomplish our tasks.
But as technology advances in a way that keeps most of us mainly working indoors, tech business leaders are noted to be avid walkers. Steve Jobs preferred walking during his serious conversations and meetings, taking colleagues on ‘brainstorming walks.’ Now, Mark Zuckerberg follows this same philosophy, walking around Menlo Park and taking in the views when speaking with potential new hires. This practice has a long history — ancient philosopher Aristotle was known to instruct his students on long walks.
And it’s easy to see why: going outside, even if for just 15-20 minutes, has amazing benefits. It decreases stress, increases creativity, mood, brain function, and — worth considering as you stare at the screen reading this — a decreased risk of long-term poor vision. This, plus the change in scenery, can put you in the perfect state of mind to talk to your employees, colleagues, or co-workers as a way to get to know them better, discuss a project you might both be stuck on, or for your weekly one-on-one (1:1).
A 1:1 is not the time for a status report; instead it is a time for the employee to catch-up with their manager and have a free-flowing conversation to voice concerns, brainstorm ideas, vent frustrations and work through solutions. It can be as simple and as organic as walking to a slightly farther place for lunch or going to a nearby park or public space. A walking 1:1 will provide all the physical and mental benefits of being outdoors, which mean both you and your employee will be in much better moods to open up and have your conversation meander. Plus, since walking is linked to improved brain function, any ideas you have before such a meeting could potentially become improved upon by the benefits of a walk.
So if you are a manager, start getting outside during your scheduled 1:1s. Let your employees know that a 1:1 is their time, so encourage them to ask you as their manager to take a break from the conference room and take a walk on your next 1:1.
Here are some tips for running successful 1:1s with your team:
- Have a set of 2-4 questions that you answer every week before breaking into the 1:1. This will help gauge weekly trends and start the flow of conversation.
- As a manager, ask questions that provoke engaging dialogue about the employee’s current and long term goals. Don’t settle for short or vague dialogue.
- After the 1:1, when you get back to the office, jot down notes from the meeting. As a manager it is your responsibility to take action on removing existing roadblocks and prepare for long-term development plans. Encourage your employee to take notes on feedback and action items that you agreed on during your 1:1. It is important that you both follow-up on what was discussed.
If you are new to 1:1’s or find that your current 1:1’s are less effective than you’d hope, check out this guide on why 1:1s are important and how to run one.
(But seriously, you should get out more.)