Hey Taro members,
Since in most companies, I believe the 1:1 with Managers is biweekly or weekly I was thinking about what to communicate in every meeting. At times, I run out of things to discuss. We cover topics related to how tasks are going, feedback if any, and after that, there's not really anything else. Given the fact these meetings are recurring, I want the communication to be more natural. Any advice for that since I do realize the importance of 1:1's and would like to make the most of it?
Also, any other topics besides the ones mentioned above that should be discussed in 1:1 something I can initiate a discussion about as an Entry Level Engineer and make the most out of these 1:1s?
Frequently ending your manager 1:1s early (i.e. after 15 minutes) is an anti-pattern. Your manager relationship is the most important work relationship you have -- ending early means you're wasting valuable time where you could deepen that relationship and get more feedback that will help you grow.
I highly recommend [Masterclass] How To Have Impactful 1 on 1 Meetings.
Here's what else you can talk about:
It may also help to have themed 1:1s. For example, dedicate one 1:1 every month to be focused on your longer-term career, and another to be about discussing the broader team charter.
I want the communication to be more natural
It's okay to also talk about your personal life with your manager. It doesn't have to be all about business. You'll be able to foster more trust and comfort which can make it easier to talk about hard conversations in the future.
First, don't feel too much pressure on making the 1 on 1 seem "natural". Getting relationships to that point takes time, and you're literally just starting out your career so this sort of trust-building will be harder for you. On top of that, a lot of managers aren't very good or just won't synergize well with you in particular - There's a very real chance your relationship will never feel 90%+ natural.
For reference, my 1 on 1s with my first-ever manager at PayPal felt at least a bit awkward for 3-6 months after I started. And honestly, I don't think ever really got it to a state where it was completely natural.
In terms of topics, I would start working on some sort of growth plan for you to get to mid-level if you have been on the team for >6 months and your performance feedback has been good so far. That will definitely take a hefty chunk of time each 1 on 1. To learn how to do that, check out this masterclass: [Masterclass] How To Work Better With Your Engineering Manager
Frequently ending your manager 1:1s early (i.e. after 15 minutes) is an anti-pattern.
What Rahul said here is also 100% true. If you really can't find a way to fill in 30 minutes every week, it's much better to decrease the frequency (30 minutes every 2 weeks) instead of the length (15 minutes every week).
Every meeting is a huge cost not only due to the time but the context switching involved. A planned meeting that ends up only being 15 minutes or less is a failure and probably could have been an email or Slack message instead.
Thanks everyone for the great insights on this question!